Last updated on 31 July 2011
Bisphenol-A , or BPA, is a chemical used to make hard plastics. It is used in all sorts of products, from car headlights to food containers. It's also used in the coating inside food cans, to stop metal getting into the food.
Very small amounts of BPA can transfer from packaging into food and drinks, but these levels of exposure are not considered to be harmful. Independent experts have worked out how much BPA we can consume every day over a lifetime without coming to any harm, and the amount people actually absorb from all food and drink is significantly below this level.
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 read the EFSA Opinion on BPA at the link below.
The levels of Bisphenol-A 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.
Research is still going on to establish whether or not bisphenol-A has this effect in humans. However, well-conducted studies have shown that bisphenol-A in food is not a health concern.
Yes. The European Framework Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 on Materials and Articles Intended to come into Contact with Foodstuffs lays down the general safety requirements for all materials and articles. These regulations require that materials and articles containing BPA, such as some can coatings, do not make food harmful. The regulations also make sure that they do not change the nature, substance or quality of the food.
The Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2009 permit the use of BPA in the manufacture of plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, provided that no more than 0.6 mg/kg migrates into the food.
I have read about some people's concerns about BPA in the press. Does the Agency share these concerns?
The Agency has met with representatives from Breast Cancer UK and the Cancer Prevention and Education Society to discuss their concerns around the use of BPA. The Agency's Head of Chemical Risk Assessment, Dr Diane Benford, described the Agency’s position on this matter and this is outlined in the document below.
Food Contact Materials Unit
Food Standards Agency
London WC2B 6NH
Tel: 020 7276 8548
Fax: 020 7276 8446