CHEM Trust: EU Commission publishes proposal to ban BPA in certain Food Contact Materials

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on their proposal to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) and other hazardous bisphenols in certain food contact materials (FCMs).

BPA is the most well-known and commonly used bisphenol, which are chemicals that are widely used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and resins, including in food packaging.


CHEM Trust welcomes the proposal

We welcome the Commission’s intention to restrict BPA and other bisphenols in certain food contact materials.

In particular, we welcome the inclusion of ‘other bisphenols’ in the proposal, as there is a high risk of regrettable substitution. Other bisphenols (such as BPS and BPF) are increasingly being used as replacements for BPA, some of which have shown similar health impacts. Read more about regrettable substitution in our report, “From BPA to BPZ: a toxic soup?”. We have long argued for regulation of bisphenols as a group and therefore support the grouping of bisphenols in this proposal.

We also strongly support the automatic inclusion of bisphenols in the restriction once they have been officially classified as hazardous under REACH. This approach is new to the FCM legislation. It should be effective in achieving a high level of protection for health, as it ensures immediate regulation after relevant hazards of bisphenols have been recognised.

Gaps in the proposal

However, CHEM Trust believes there are areas in the proposal that could be improved, to ensure a higher level of health protection and to provide more regulatory certainty.

The scope of the restriction should be expanded to include ‘other bisphenols’ that are suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic or are suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals (known as category 2 CMRs and EDCs).

The proposal should also be expanded to cover all FCMs in which BPA and other bisphenols are currently used, may be used in the future, or may be present due to the use of contaminated recycled materials.

Finally, the transition periods in the legislation should be shortened to stop human (and environmental) exposure to hazardous bisphenols as soon as possible.

Read more in our detailed response to the consultation.

Read the draft proposal and respond to the consultation on the Commission’s website.

Risk to EU population from BPA in their diet

The restriction was initiated following the re-revaluation of the toxicity of BPA, which was published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in April 2023. EFSA reviewed over 800 new studies on BPA’s toxicity and reduced the tolerable daily intake (TDI)* of BPA, previously set in 2015, by around 20,000 times.

Experts from EFSA compared this new TDI with peoples’ estimated exposure to BPA, and concludedthat the health of people in all age groups is at risk from BPA in their diet.

In September 2023, the European Environment Agency (EEA) subsequently concluded that the EU population’s actual exposure to BPA is well above acceptable health safety levels and poses a potential health risk to millions of people.

Antonia Reihlen, Chemical Policy Expert at CHEM Trust, said: 

“It is great news that the EU will restrict BPA and other hazardous bisphenols in materials that come into contact with our food and drinks. However, to properly protect people’s health, the restriction should cover all FCMs and must also address chemicals that are suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic or are suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

We also reiterate the urgent need to revise the EU’s FCM legislation. Without this revision, people and the environment will continue to be exposed to harmful chemicals used in FCMs”.

Revision of FCM legislation needed

While CHEM Trust welcomes the proposal to ban BPA and other harmful bisphenols in food contact materials, there is an even more urgent need to revise the EU’s FCM framework legislation.

The long overdue revision of the legislation was first promised in May 2020. It was announced that the revision would focus on reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, including via generic restrictions and by defining more requirements for the finished food contact article. The responses to a public consultation on the revision demonstrated wide-ranging support for action.

However, the revision has been subject to a series of delays, and a legislative proposal is now expected in “2024 and beyond”. The revision of the FCM legislation is desperately needed to improve the EU’s outdated laws and increase the chemical safety of food contact materials.


Read more about harmful chemicals in FCMs on our Toxic Free Food Packaging website.

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*A TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance that a person can ingest daily (via air, food or drinking water) over their lifetime, without it posing a risk to their health.