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New twist in BPA controversy

19 April 2010

On 1 April it was reported 'some ... best-known foods contain the chemical bisphenol A'. It wasn't an April Fool's joke. Now scientists appear to be at war over just how dangerous BPA really is. And the FSA is being challenged to clarifty its position on the chemical.

An interesting cacophony of debates has broken out in The Independent, which initially reported its investigation into BPA. The report said tins of Heinz baked beans, soup and beans, John West and Princes fish, and Napolina tomatoes are lined with a membrane containing BPA. Other companies using it in their tins, The Independent claimed, include Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, who use it for tins of tuna and sardines.

In response, Chris Buxton, PPMA CEO, says he's watching the BPA debate with 'genuine concern and interest'. ''There is a lot of controversy surrounding packaging materials which PPMA members are often considered to be able to influence but as processing and packaging machinery suppliers we don't have such a direct influence over the food manufacturers or the design of the products,'' Chris told FP Express.

The UK Foods Standards Agency has come under pressure to explain its position - the agency gave the chemical the all-clear, in contrast to the US Food & Drug Administration, which in January expressed concern over its impact on the brains and development of young children and said it was 'taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure' to it in the food supply.

When FP Express contacted the FSA for a comment, it said it had issued one statement to the media. “We will always base our advice to consumers on the best available scientific evidence,'' the statement said. ''Independent scientific experts advise that current levels of exposure to BPA are not harmful.

“The EFSA review concluded that low-dose effects of BPA in rodents has not been demonstrated in a robust and reproducible way, and so cannot be used as pivotal studies for risk assessment. EFSA is currently reviewing more recent research in this area and the UK is actively involved in this. We keep our advice to consumers under constant review.”

We'll be watching the development of this story with interest.


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