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BPA Limit Needs To Be Lowered - Consumer Lobby

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A

Wellington, Sept 3 NZPA - Trans-Tasman grocers have called for calm on the issue of bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging, stating it poses no "danger to humans" at the levels detected.

The call followed testing by Australian consumer group Choice which found that, of 38 samples of canned foods commonly found on supermarket shelves, 29 contained BPA at levels "some experts believe could be harmful".

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical which has been linked to a number of illnesses such as infertility, breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and attention deficit disorder.

The chemical has been used for many years to make polycarbonate plastic and is found in epoxy resins which are used to line cans to prevent corrosion.

The highest levels -- more than 200 parts per billion (ppb) -- were found in samples of Edgell Corn Kernels and John West Tuna Olive Oil Blend. Three samples of Heinz baby or children's food were also within this range, including one product which had a BPA reading of between 300 ppb and 420 ppb.

But the Australian Food and Grocery Council said today the study did not find any cases of BPA in canned foods above safety limits set by the European Union.

"There's no scientific evidence internationally that has shown any dangers to humans from BPA in canned products or bottles," AFGC deputy chief executive Geoffrey Annison said in a statement.

Dr Annison said the Choice study, released on Thursday, found none of the 38 canned foods it tested contained BPA levels above the EU limit of 660 parts per billion.

On this side of the Tasman, Food and Grocery Council chief executive, Katherine Rich has said that levels of BPA intake "are very low and do not pose a risk to public health for any age group".

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has publicly stated that BPA levels in food products did not pose a significant health risk.

Retailers recently moved to voluntarily withdraw from sale in NZ and Australia baby bottles containing BPA but Dr Annison said this was a precautionary step to address consumer concerns.

BPA-free products -- including babyfood cans -- would be available within 12 months, Dr Annison said.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said a number of scientists believed the European Union limit of 660ppb -- on which Australasian manufacturers and regulators were relying -- was based on outdated research.

"Babies and small children in particular are at risk because of their small body weight and rapid growth," he said.

"The safe dose levels were really established in the 1980s," he told the ABC. Since then there had been a body of work suggesting that the endocrine disrupters were, ironically, having more profound effects at lower levels than at higher levels.

The World Health Organisation will discuss BPA at a meeting in Canada in November.

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