Bisphenol A or BPA, is a chemical used to make plastics including materials that come into contact with food such as refillable drinks bottles and food storage containers. It's also used to make protective coatings and linings for food and drinks cans.
Minute amounts of BPA can transfer from packaging into food and drinks, but independent experts have advised that these levels of exposure are not considered to be harmful. Independent studies have shown that, even when consumed at high levels, BPA is rapidly absorbed, detoxified, and eliminated from humans and, therefore, is not a health concern.
For more information see 'External sites' to read the previous European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Opinion on BPA.
The levels of BPA found in food from food contact materials are not a concern to health.
However, there have been claims that BPA could be one of a large number of substances that may have the potential to interact with our hormone systems, also referred to as 'endocrine disrupters'.
Although there is evidence that some wildlife species have been affected by coming into contact with endocrine disrupters, there is still no conclusive evidence of a link between harmful effects on human reproductive health and exposure to these chemicals.
Yes. There is European Union legislation that specifically restricts the amount of BPA that can migrate from plastic food contact materials into food.
Additionally, the European Framework Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 requires that all materials and articles do not transfer their constituents to food in quantities that could endanger human health.
Yes. EFSA is currently carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment of BPA which is due to be completed in 2014. This new assessment marks a major update and takes into account both dietary and non-dietary sources (including paper, inhalation and dust) as well as new studies on the toxicity of BPA. A public two-stage public consultation commenced in July 2013 with the publication of a draft exposure assessment. The second stage of the consultation is seeking comments on EFSA’s assessment of the potential human health risks of BPA.
The Food Standards Agency monitors new research and reviews of BPA and will take action if needed to protect consumer health.
The FSA will consider its advice and position on BPA in light of the EFSA opinion, and along with the European Commission and EU member states, whether any action is necessary to protect consumers.
Food Contact Materials Unit
Food Standards Agency
London WC2B 6NH