The chemical 2,2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl) propane, more commonly known as Bisphenol A (BPA), is a chemical monomer used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate is used in food contact materials such as beverage bottles, infant feeding bottles, food containers, processing equipment and other articles. Epoxy resins are used in protective linings for variety of canned foods and beverages, including infant formula.
Over the years, Health Canada's Food Directorate has conducted periodic reviews of BPA as new information has become available relating to its toxicity and/or its potential exposure from food packaging applications. The purpose of these reviews was to determine whether dietary exposure to BPA could pose a health risk to consumers.
Based on the overall weight of evidence, including reaffirmation by other international regulatory agencies (notably the United States, Europe and Japan); and, in keeping with the conclusions re-confirmed in the most recent assessment of BPA from food packaging applications (August, 2008):
However, due to the uncertainty raised in some animal studies relating to the potential effects of low levels of BPA, the Government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children. It is therefore recommended that the general principle of ALARAFootnote 1 (as low as reasonably achievable) be applied to continue efforts on limiting BPA exposure from food packaging applications to infants and newborns, specifically from pre-packaged infant formula products as a sole source food, for this sensitive segment of the population.
What is Health Canada Doing to protect Canadians?
The WHO Collaborating Centre for Food Contamination Monitoring within Health Canada's Food Directorate hosted the World Health Organization expert meeting to review toxicological and health aspects of bisphenol A. This expert meeting was supported by Health Canada (HC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA), and was held in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The expert meeting took place from November 2-5, 2010, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
As stated previously, Health Canada's Food Directorate maintains its opinion that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants; furthermore, the conclusion of the WHO/FAO expert meeting supports Health Canada's commitment to continue to investigate the relevance of the low dose effects being observed in some experimental animal studies.
FAO/WHO Expert Meeting to Review Toxicological and Health Aspects of Bisphenol A
- Conclusions from the World Health Organization (WHO) Project to Review Toxicological and Health Aspects of Bisphenol A
- The World Health Organization (WHO) Project to Review Toxicological and Health Aspects of Bisphenol A - Stakeholder Meeting - November 1, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada
- The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Meeting to Review Toxicological and Health Aspects of Bisphenol A - Meeting Objectives and Expected Outcomes - November 2-5, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada
BPA was included in Batch 2 of the Challenge under the Chemicals Management Plan carried out by Health Canada and Environment Canada. On October 18, 2008, the Government of Canada released its final assessment report, including the Government's proposed risk management strategies, to ensure that Canadian exposure to BPA is kept as low as possible, particularly for newborns and infants.
The Bureau of Chemical Safety, in the Food Directorate of Health Canada, is responsible for ensuring that chemicals are not present in foods at levels that may cause adverse health effects. The Bureau is actively engaged in addressing the following Government commitments, first announced on April 18, 2008 and reiterated on October 18, 2008, which fall under its mandate:
- To support industry in developing a "Code of Practice" to reduce levels of BPA in infant formula can linings.
- To facilitate the assessment of proposed industry alternatives to BPA for use in infant formula can coatings.
- To set migration targets for BPA in infant formula cans.
- To continue to review pre-marked submissions for infant formula packaging, to ensure the lowest levels of BPA achievable.
- To explore setting migration targets for canned foods in general.
- To gather additional occurrence data on BPA in order to fill information gaps in the current exposure assessment knowledge base.
- To facilitate the assessment of proposed industry alternatives to BPA used in can coatings.
The subsequent section provides an update on progress made to date in delivering on these commitments. Note that this list will be expanded as new information becomes available.
- Bisphenol A: Update on the Food Directorate's Risk Management Commitments for Infant Formula (December 2014)
- Update on the Food Directorate's Risk Management Commitments for Bisphenol A as Part of Canada's Chemical Management Plan (September 2012)
- Health Canada's Updated Assessment of Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure from Food Sources (September 2012)
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Soft Drink and Beer Products from Canadian Markets- Summary
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Canned Food Products from Canadian Markets - Summary
- Investigation of Storage Time on Potential Bisphenol A Migration into Canned Liquid Infant Formula Stored at Room Temperature - Summary (December 2009)
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Baby Foods Prepackaged in Glass Jars with Metal Lids (July 2009)
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Canned Powdered Infant Formula Products (July 2009)
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Bottled Water Products (July 2009)
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Canned Drink Products (March 2009).
- Survey of Bisphenol A in Canned Liquid Infant Formula Products (August, 2008).
- Analytical Method (LPS-004): Determination of Bisphenol A in Liquid Infant Formula.
- Health Risk Assessment of Bisphenol A from Food Packaging Applications (August, 2008)
- Towards a "Code of Practice" aimed at reducing levels of BPA in infant formula to as low as reasonably achievable.
- June 19, 2008: Report on the Health Canada / US-FDA / Industry Meeting.
- January 30, 2009: Report on the Health Canada / US-FDA / and Industry BPA Value Chain Meeting.
- November 17, 2009: Health Canada is Working With the Food Industry to Develop a Practice to Minimize the Occurrence of Bisphenol A in Infant Formula.
- Research Plans
- Summary of current priorities in research aimed at gathering occurrence data on BPA, in general, to ensure the most accurate exposure estimates are used to maintain up-to-date health risk assessments necessary to support measures aimed at keeping Canadian exposure to BPA from food sources as low as possible.
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