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MEPs reject motion for total ban on BPA in FCMs

Products - FCM tomatoes © petunyia -

MEPs have voted to reject a motion calling for a total ban on BPA in food contact materials. The motion had also demanded a draft EU Commission proposal to lower migration limits be dismissed.

The defeated motion was tabled by four MEPs at the European Parliament's environment committee (Envi) meeting with 42 members voting against, 17 for and one abstention.

The Commission's draft amending Regulation proposes a tighter limit on the amount of BPA allowed to migrate from plastic FCMs. And for varnishes and coatings used for non-plastic groups it would reduce the limit to 0.05mg of BPA/kg of food. It currently stands at 0.6mg.

Ahead of the vote, one of the MEPs who tabled the defeated motion – Martin Häusling of the European Green party – said he believes the Commission "should take things further" instead of this "half-hearted approach" of "a bit of a ban". Last year, MEPs backed an Envi report calling for a full prohibition.

And despite being in favour of the ban, Social Democrats MEP Christel Schaldemose said if MEPs backed the motion objecting to the Commission's draft text, there would be no restriction proposal potentially "for years".

Even though the Commission's proposal is "not ambitious enough", she said, "we will be able to protect our children in six months", the time by which the Regulation could be enforced. "We will keep fighting for a total ban in the future," she added.

NGO response

NGOs have slammed the draft Regulation, saying it does not go far enough to protect consumers.

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) policy officer Natacha Cingotti says the result of the vote means "European politicians are failing in their responsibility to protect people's health and to act on their earlier commitments". Safer alternatives are available and some governments, such as France, and industry retailers are "already on the path" to substitution, she adds.

The adverse health effects of BPA, "even at low doses, are so well documented that it should already have been banned from all consumer products a long time ago," she says.

Meanwhile, CHEM Trust’s Michael Warhurst says the Commission’s proposed controls "are not strong enough". And, he adds, unfortunately the European Parliament is not able to directly amend this measure, "which would have been the best way to strengthen it".

He says it is disappointing that the resolution was not passed by the environment committee, but, he adds "DG Health should now address the concerns raised in the resolution and develop further controls on BPA."

Jasmin Bird, from the polycarbonate/BPA group of trade association PlasticsEurope, says the Commission's proposed Regulation will cover all major food contact applications and additionally comprises precautionary elements for the protection of young children. "In essence it will ensure a higher level of consumer protection, and also help to regain consumer trust in EU regulation and restore the internal market."

She adds that "swift adoption and implementation" throughout the EU will be "a positive science-based step to resolve the distortion of the single market, while, most importantly, maintaining a high level of consumer protection".

Regulatory steps

The European Council has already scrutinised the draft Regulation, paving the way for its adoption, which is expected in the next few months. The Regulation should then, according to the draft text, apply six months after entry into force.

In December, Echa's Member State Committee (MSC) agreed with Germany's proposal to identify BPA as an SVHC because of its endocrine-disrupting properties causing probable serious effects in the environment.

The substance is already on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs on two counts. Not only is it toxic to reproduction, but it also has endocrine-disrupting properties which cause probable serious effects to human health.

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