The ban is foreseen in an EU directive adopted in late January which also cover, on June 1, the placing on the market and import into the EU of baby bottles containing BPA. Meanwhile, the industry is voluntarily withdrawing from the market baby bottles containing BPA and replacing them with safer products. This voluntary action is expected to be completed by mid 2011. Member States now have to communicate to the Commission the national legal measures they take to comply with the provisions of the directive.
John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said: “March 1 represents a landmark in our efforts to protect better the health of EU citizens, in particular when it comes to our children following the precautionary principle. Due to the fact that there are uncertainties concerning the harmfulness of the exposure of infants to Bisphenol A, the Commission deemed it both necessary and appropriate to take action. The aim is to further reduce the exposure of the most vulnerable part of our population – i.e. the infants – to the substance thus safeguarding their health.”
What is BPA?
BPA is an organic molecule that is used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, which – in turn – are used to manufacture plastic materials, such as baby bottles.
Small amounts of BPA can be released from plastic containers into the food they carry – in the case of baby bottles that would be infant formula – if these containers are heated at high temperatures.
The infants’ system is still building up to eliminate BPA during the first six months of their lives. Their exposure to the substance is the highest during this period especially if infant formula is their only source of nutrition as this is administered through baby bottles.
At the end of March 2010, the Danish government banned temporarily the use of BPA in the manufacture of plastic materials coming in contact with food intended for children up to three years old. The Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the grounds on which Denmark banned BPA.
In July 2010, France also announced a temporary ban on the manufacture, import, export and placing on the market of baby bottles containing BPA.
EFSA delivered its opinion in September 2010. It concluded that Bisphenol A is safe up to a daily intake of 0.05 miligrams per kilo of bodyweight. The exposure of all groups of the population is below this limit. However EFSA’s panel also raised some questions with respect to the possible impact of BPA on infants, in particular and concluded that this aspect requires further attention until more robust data on the areas of uncertainty becomes available.