Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most widely used monomer (simple chemical compound) in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic for food contact materials. Polycarbonate is a solid, hard, transparent plastic that can handle high temperatures, unlike other materials. Polycarbonate is used for all kinds of applications such as safety glasses, helmets, beverage bottles and the packaging of food products. In addition, BPA is used in epoxy resins, which are used for protective coatings and coatings for food and beverage cans.
EFSA states that BPA is currently poses no risk to health because exposure to this contaminant is low. However, the Nederlands Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM) carried out a study that showed that BPA can actually affect the immune system. The EFSA is currently evaluating this information.
BPA is primarily found in tinned food (meat and seafood products) and foodstuffs packed in hard plastic, such as drinks. Small amounts of BPA from food contact materials can migrate into foods and beverages. These are mainly remnants of BPA that have not converted into polycarbonate or coatings. BPA can also be released due to heat, for example when warming up a baby bottle or a ready-made meal, or through contact with alkaline foods or cleaning agents.
Regulation (EC) 1895/2005 sets the specific migration limit for the total number of epoxy resin derivatives (including BPA) at 9 mg/kg in food or simulants. Directive 2004/19/EC, has set the specific migration limit for BPA at 0.6 ug/kg.
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