Food Law News - UK - 2001
FSA Letter, 12 April 2001
CONTAMINANTS - Consultation: Migration of Bisphenol A from Can Coatings into Food
The Food Standards Agency is carrying out a consultation in response to a survey of bisphenol A in canned food because of the uncertainties that exist in the scientific understanding of potential endocrine effects of this substance.
Comments to the Agency's Food Contact Materials Unit are requested by 4th July 2001.
The letter enclosed:
These can be found on the Food Standards website at :
- the findings of the Agency's survey, reported in a Food Surveillance Information Sheet (FSIS 13/01 of April 2001)
- an opinion on the public health significance of these findings from the Committee on Toxicity at Annex 1 to the Information Sheet.
The Agency would welcome comments on the following points and questions:
- The survey was carried out to establish whether migration of bisphenols A or F occurs into retail samples of canned foods in the UK. No migration of bisphenol F was found. Bisphenol A was detected at up to 0.07 mg/kg in 37 samples and at 0.35 to 0.42 mg/kg in one sample (limit of detection: 0.002 mg/kg; limit of quantification: 0.007 mg/kg). Bisphenol A is used to make most types of epoxy resins. These are cross-linked before being applied to the insides of cans. Bisphenol A is not generally used for cross-linking as this could lead to more migration. We understand that action has been taken to avoid the use of this substance as a cross-linking agent in can coatings. What other measures may be needed to reassure consumers?
- UK industry has been taking steps to find ways of reducing the migration of bisphenol A and to find possible alternative substances. Given the role that coatings have in protecting the microbiological and chemical safety of canned food, it is important that any alternative substances to bisphenol A do not allow bacterial or metallic contamination of canned food and do not themselves raise safety concerns. It would be helpful if industry could provide information on progress in this work, for example on possible alternatives to bisphenol A.
- The trade in canned foods is international. But there appears to be little information about bisphenol A migration into canned food and drink in other countries. The Food Standards Agency will continue to press for EU-wide controls on chemical migration into canned foods (see for example Food Surveillance Information Sheet no. 7/00). It would be helpful to pool available information on work that is going on overseas on bisphenol A migration into canned food and drink.
- Some environmentalists have pressed for more information on the use of substances such as bisphenol A, that they believe are hazardous, to allow consumers to make an informed choice. Which substances are acceptable to environmentalists in this context and on what scientific basis? What information would consumers welcome about chemical migration from can coatings?
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