The European Union has recently approved a proposal by the European Commission to ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in various food packaging. This chemical, commonly found in many products and plastic containers, is known for its ability to migrate in small quantities into food and beverages, posing a potential health risk.

The new regulation, set to take effect at the end of 2024, prohibits the use of BPA in various product categories. These include the internal coatings of metal cans, reusable plastic beverage bottles, water dispensers, and other kitchen utensils. This ban is based on an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which highlighted the potential harmful effects of BPA on the immune system.

Transition period and limited exceptions

The new packaging restrictions include a transition period: 36 months for paints, coatings, adhesives, and production equipment, and 18 months for all other food contact materials. During this period, some limited exceptions will also be evaluated. These exceptions will apply only if no safe alternatives are available, to avoid risks to consumers. This flexibility has been introduced to ensure that the food industry has sufficient time to adapt to the new regulations without compromising food safety.

Bisphenol A and its health impact

Bisphenol A has long been a health concern due to its ability to interfere with the immune system.

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), exposure to this chemical, which is used in plastic and metal food containers, reusable bottles, and even some drinking water pipes, is "well above acceptable health safety levels." The EEA has raised an alarm, emphasizing that BPA poses a potential health risk. This concern is shared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which classifies BPA as toxic to reproduction, and by the EFSA, which has drastically reduced the tolerable daily intake of the substance by over 20,000 times.

Additionally, a study conducted by the EEA, based on the limits set by the EFSA, found that in the 11 European countries surveyed, 100% of the sample population was exposed to Bisphenol A above the health safety thresholds.

The new EU regulation thus represents a significant step towards protecting consumers and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals. With the ban coming into effect at the end of 2024, the food industry will need to find alternative solutions to ensure that products remain safe for human consumption without using Bisphenol A.

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