Industry calls for immediate Commission response on Bisphenol A following EFSA
On 21 January 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its opinion on the
safety of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical building block widely used in the manufacture of
packaging materials for food contact. EFSA’s experts concluded that BPA poses no health risk
to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current
exposure levels. Prior to the publication of this opinion, several EU Member States had
adopted national measures restricting the use of BPA in food contact materials. This means
that e.g. certain foods will need to be packed in different materials than for the rest of the EU
market when destined for an affected national market. While these national measures are in
conflict with existing EU law and go against the EU’s core principle of the free movement of
goods, the European Commission decided to await the comprehensive new EFSA opinion
before taking any actions against these national measures.
Despite the clear scientific opinion of EFSA now being available, there is a worrying
lack of respective action on the part of the authorities
Four months after the publication of the EFSA safety conclusion, national restriction measures
on BPA are still in place and there is no information from the European Commission on the
next steps it intends to take. This gives a worrying signal both to European consumers and
businesses. We, the undersigned industry associations, urgently call on the European
Commission to address the BPA case as a matter of priority in order to remove the uncertainty
for consumers and businesses.
BPA-based food contact materials continue to be banned in France despite EFSA’s
clear safety conclusion
In France, a unilateral measure has been introduced which restricts the use of BPA in all food
contact materials in France since 1 January 20152
. This ban has been pursued by France on
the grounds of protecting consumers, despite the fact that many government bodies around
the world, including EFSA, have repeatedly evaluated the scientific evidence on BPA and
confirmed it as safe for use. Furthermore, the French law was enforced despite many formal
objections expressed over the past years from other EU Member States and global trading
partners, objections which have to-date been ignored by the French authorities.
2 As of January 1, 2015, the French Law No. 2012-1442 of 24 December 2012 bans the manufacturing, import,
export and placing on the market of any bisphenol-A based material intended for use in food contact packaging,
containers and utensils for all food contact applications.
The French measure runs contrary to the Commission’s own core priorities
European plastics food-contact packaging legislation is harmonised in a single market with
common rules. This is now being de-harmonised which is counter productive and indeed the
opposite of “better regulation“. Our organisations have continuously expressed strong
concerns about the precedent that the French measure sets. It ignores existing harmonised
EU food-contact law; it provides no additional safety benefit for consumers, but it
severely damages the impacted industries in Europe3
The ban in France severely weakens and distorts the European Single Market for
these packaging and food container products. At a time when a deepening of the
Internal Market is a core priority, manufacturers of everyday goods – from drink cans to
plastic water coolers – now face differing standards for marketing and producing their
products in France compared to the rest of the EU.
The measure creates a significant level of investment uncertainty for all business
sectors that rely on harmonised European standards as a basis for their European
operations. For the single market for these goods to work properly, investors need the
certainty that Europe-wide standards and regulations will be honoured. How can
industry invest without the legal certainty which the Single Market is meant to provide?
The measure is already having an unnecessary and detrimental effect on growth for
the affected industries. The packaging and food container market is a Europe-wide one
and industry solutions are typically developed for the market as a whole rather than for
specific national markets – negative economic impacts are therefore being felt inside
as well as outside France.
Assessments about socio-economic impact of further restriction of BPA are irrelevant
in the case of a confirmed safe substance
The EFSA assessment gives a very clear “green light” for the use of BPA in food contact
materials. No additional considerations are warranted. The substance is safe, it can be used.
If a substance is not safe, it must be restricted. In both cases, socio-economic assessments
are irrelevant. We support the adoption of science-based regulatory decisions: We do not
support national derogations or protecting national markets.
Lack of decisive action is leading to further regulatory spill-over into other safe
applications and encourages “à la carte” initiatives
Whilst the period of legal limbo continues Member States feel increasingly encouraged to
abandon the Single Market approach to BPA-based products. For example, moves are being
3 In March 2013, the PC/BPA-group of PlasticsEurope had filed a complaint against the French law at the European
Commission. It is being handled under EU PILOT 5815/13/ENTR.
Industry considers that the French law n° 2012-1442 of December 2012 infringes numerous EU provisions, including
the principle of the free movement of goods, Regulation 1935/2004 on food contact materials and Commission
Regulation 10/2011 on plastics materials and articles intended to come in contact with food, Commission regulation
1895/2005 on epoxy derivatives in food contact materials, the precautionary principle, the Technical Standards
Directive 98/34, and WTO law. The complaint requests that the Commission takes the necessary steps to stop
made in the French National Assembly to extend an unjustified and disproportionate restriction
to BPA in toys, which would be another clear infringement of existing EU law. In Denmark,
additional “voluntary” restriction options are being requested. In Sweden, market partners
announce to stop using BPA-based food packaging requesting “alternative” substances from
their suppliers. If industry can no longer use products assessed as being safe by EFSA, we
need to understand which criteria need to be applied to develop acceptable substitutes.
Otherwise, “à la carte” deselection processes will imply time, money and liability issues. This
precedent also opens the door widely for Member States to proceed with further unilateral
restriction intentions on other chemicals applications, far beyond BPA.
We call upon the European Commission to address the BPA case according to the
existing laws and regulations as a matter of priority
The longer the European Commission fails to act against existing measures that are in conflict
with existing EU law or regulatory agreements, the more the credibility of the European
regulatory approach is undermined and the more the Single Market will become fragmented.
In the interest of European citizens and businesses, and in line with the European
Commission’s agenda for Better Regulation, we call for a swift response by EU policymakers,
demonstrating the importance of EU harmonized legislation and limiting the ongoing damage
to the Single Market caused by national measures.