Bisphenol-A or BPA, is a chemical used to make plastics including materials that come into contact with food such as refillable drinks bottles and food storage containers. The resins that are used to coat the insides of some food cans contain the chemical BPA. This coating allows canned food to be heated to kill off bacteria without the metal in the can contaminating the food contents.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is one of a large number of substances that may be able to interact with human hormone systems. These substances are called 'endocrine disrupters'.
There is evidence that some wildlife species have been affected by coming into contact with endocrine disrupters. Research is still going on to establish whether BPA has this effect in humans, but results so far show it is metabolised and removed from the body as waste.
Rules for using BPA in food packaging
Materials and articles that come into contact with food must comply with EU rules.
Under this regulation materials that contain BPA must not:
- make food harmful
- change the nature, substance or quality of the food
BPA may be used in plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, so long as no more than 0.05 milligrams per kilogram migrates into the food. EU rules forbid migration of BPA from varnishes and coatings intended to be in contact with infant formula, baby foods and products intended for young children.
The Food Contact Materials Team can provide more information about the safety of bisphenol-A (BPA) used in the food industry. You can contact them by email at FoodContactMaterial@gov.uk. Alternatively, you can call the Food Standards Agency Food Contact Materials Team Helpline on Tel 020 7276 8555.