European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - Largo N. Palli 5/a, I-43100 Parma
European Food Safety Authority
Parma, 29 January 2007
Frequently Asked Questions
Bisphenol A (BPA)
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is mainly used in combination with other
chemicals to manufacture plastics and resins. It has been used in the manufacture of
these materials for many years. BPA is also known by its proper chemical name, 2,2-
How does it get into our diet?
BPA is used in polycarbonate, a type of transparent, rigid plastic. Polycarbonate is
used to make food containers, such as returnable beverage bottles, infant feeding
(baby) bottles, tableware (plates and mugs) and storage containers.
Residues of BPA are also present in epoxy resins used to make protective coatings
and linings for food and beverage cans and vats.
Small amounts of BPA can migrate from polycarbonate plastics or epoxy resin linings
into foods and beverages. BPA can also migrate into foods if the plastic or resin is
damaged or breaks down.
Is it legally permitted for use in food contact materials in the EU?
Yes. BPA is permitted for use in food contact materials in the European Union
. It is
also permitted for food contact use in other countries such as the USA and Japan.
Why is there concern about BPA?
BPA is one of a number of chemicals that may have the potential to interact with
hormone systems in the body (a so-called 'endocrine disrupter'). It has been known
since the 1930s that BPA can mimic the female sex hormone, oestrogen. The effects
on fertility and reproduction and the endocrine (hormonal) system have been subject
to much scientific debate, linked to reports of low-dose effects of BPA in rodents.
Why has EFSA carried out a new review of BPA?
Some 200 scientific papers have been published on BPA since the last review by the
European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food in 2002. Therefore there was
a need to review the data, including these new studies. The review has been carried
BPA is permitted for use in food contact materials in the European Union under Commission
Directive 2002/72/EC of 6 August 2002 relating to plastic materials and articles intending to come into
contact with foodstuffs. Official Journal of the European Union L39/1-42 13.2.2003.