Some members of the European Parliament insist on trying to teach fish how to swim. With their amendment last week, summarised on Twitter as “Ban BPA from all food contact materials, say MEPs”, members of the European Parliament have decided that they know more about the impact of food contact materials on human health than Europe’s Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
On 6 October, members of the European Parliament considered a non-binding report on the Implementation of the European Union’s Food Contact Materials. During the debate, members of the Green group tabled an amendment to call for a ban on bisphenol-A (BPA) in all food contacts materials (FCM), and this amendment was adopted.
This amendment is based on tenuous logic at best. The request for a general ban of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials contradicts the conclusion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) from January 2015 which concluded that there is “No consumer health risk from Bisphenol A exposure”.
The amendment challenges the idea that EFSA knows how to swim – or in this case, assess the risk of a food contact material.
EFSA’s opinion from January 2015 considered 463 different peer-reviewed scientific articles from the period 2006-2013 alone (p. 13). Furthermore, to build in a wide margin of safety, EFSA applied an overall uncertainty factor of 150 into the risk assessment. EFSA has regularly reviewed and updated its opinion since it conducted its first full risk assessment of BPA in 2006.
The European Parliament has played an important role in overseeing the development of the legislative system in Europe which works to protect us from harmful substances, and it continues to play an important role to ensure that this system is properly implemented. However, the ban on BPA in food contacts called for by MEPs in October
is misleading, as it discredits the work of Europe’s expert toxicologists and scientists, creates and exacerbates problems of trust in public agencies such as EFSA, and undermines other important legislative efforts.