Bisphenol A ("BPA") is very widely used in food contact materials, and has been a matter of concern to regulators in EU Member States for some years. It is a suspected reprotoxin, and may affect the kidney and liver at very high levels. BPA is already banned from infant feeding bottles across the EU, and individual Member States including France, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden have their own restrictions on the chemical.

In the light of these health concerns and a re-evaluation of BPA, last year the European Food Safety Authority reduced the tolerable daily intake from 50 to 4 microgrammes per kilogramme of body weight per day. As BPA can migrate into food from food contact materials, the EU has also published a draft regulation that will significantly reduce the permitted specific migration limit of BPA in plastic food contact materials and articles.

The proposed regulation will extend the same migration limits to BPA in varnished or coated materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, such as food cans and screw caps. These articles and materials will also be subject to verification provisions and will need a written declaration of conformity, at all stages of manufacture, processing and distribution (other than the retail stage).  The EU currently plans to adopt this draft Regulation in September 2016, with its provisions coming into effect in March 2017.

Harmonisation of the approach to BPA regulation across Europe is broadly welcomed by food industry and packaging organisations. Some individual manufacturers have announced plans to phase out BPA use in their cans or packaging.