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France Releases Guidance on BPA Ban; EFSA to Publish Updated BPA Assessment by January 31, 2015

The French ban on Bisphenol A (BPA) in food-contact products intended for use by children up to 3 years of age will expand to include all packaging, containers, and utensils intended for direct contact with food on January 1, 2015. The ban, French law no 2012-1442, was adopted on December 26, 2012.

In anticipation of the January 1, 2015 effective date for the broader BPA ban, the French enforcement authority—the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption, and Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF)—published a guidance document (in French) on December 8, 2014. The guidance clarifies that the BPA law does not apply to industrial equipment used in the production, processing, storage, or transport of food, or to BPA used in secondary and tertiary packaging. However, the law does apply to BPA that is present in materials and articles intended to come into direct contact with food, even if BPA is not intentionally used in the manufacture of the material or article in question.

The French BPA law does not contain a de minimis exemption for BPA in food contact materials. However, for enforcement purposes, a method with a limit of detection of 2 mg/kg (2 parts per million) in paper and paperboard will be used. Further information is available (in French) on the French government's website.

The Polycarbonate/Bisphenol A group of Plastics Europe filed a complaint with the European Commission in March, 2013, challenging France's BPA law. The Commission has indicated that it does not intend to take any action on the complaint, pending an ongoing assessment of the safety of Bisphenol A by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

In other news, EFSA announced that it had finalized its scientific opinion on the health risks from BPA in food, and that the opinion had been adopted by the Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids. EFSA will release its updated risk assessment on BPA by the end of January 2015.