EU to ban Bisphenol A in baby bottles in 2011

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The European Union will ban the use of organic compound Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles from 2011 with the backing of a majority of EU governments, the EU's executive Commission said on Thursday (25 November).

"There were areas of uncertainty, deriving from new studies, which showed that BPA might have an effect on development, immune response and tumour promotion," said John Dalli, EU commissioner in charge of health and consumer policy, in a statement.

"The decision […] is good news for European parents who can be sure that as of mid-2011 plastic infant feeding bottles will not include BPA."

EU states will outlaw the manufacture of polycarbonate feeding bottles containing the compound from March 2011, and ban their import and sale from June 2011, the Commission said.

It added that the decision was "the result of months of discussion and exchange of views between the Commission's services, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the member states and the industry".

Manufacturers of Bisphenol A have long claimed the product was safe. "BPA is not a carcinogenic risk to humans," said the European Chemicals Industry Council (Cefic) in a 2002 review, citing "overwhelming scientific evidence" that BPA is safe for all its intended uses.

Bisphenol A is used in the plastics of baby bottles and for coated food cans. Yesterday's ban only relates to BPA use in baby bottles.

Consumer organisations welcomed the EU's decision to ban Bisphenol A from baby bottles.

"We hope this endocrine disrupter will soon be forbidden in all consumer products, and we urge the EU to make progress on the persistent issue of 'chemical cocktails' in products," said Monique Goyens, director-general of EU consumer organisation BEUC. 

But manufacturers of the chemical are up in arms. Jasmin Bird, from the PlasticsEurope industry association, pointed to a September opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which she said re-confirmed existing safe limits for BPA intake. 

"If there was any new scientific information available since, we would very much like to know," Bird told EURACTIV.

(EURACTIV with Reuters.)

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