NEWS: Proposed Changes to Bisphenol A (BPA) legislation | Breast Cancer UK

NEWS: Proposed Changes to Bisphenol A (BPA) legislation

Published 25 Nov 2015

The European Commission is set to simplify legislation governing the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) used in food contact materials following unilateral action to restrict the chemical in some EU member states and pressure from the World Trade Organisation over its “confusing and challenging” patchwork of rules. 

At present, EU law only regulates the levels of BPA in plastic food containers and only prohibits its use in baby bottles. However, BPA is also used in other food contact materials such as metal food cans, screw tops, as well as inks, vanishings, paper and card.   

The European Commission has set out 5 possible options from ‘no change’ (option 1) all the way through to a blanket ban of BPA in all food contact materials (option 5).  Other options include: lowering the specific migration limit (SML) allowable in plastic food contact materials (option 2); introducing a SML for coatings and varnishes (option 3); and, introducing a SML for  paper and  card (option 4). 

Breast Cancer UK supports the need for better regulation of BPA and has long called for it to be banned in all food and drinks packaging.  There is clear evidence that even low level exposure to BPA could have an adverse effect on the development of breast tissue. A number of scientific studies have shown that BPA has the ability to transform normal breast cells into cells of a more cancerous or overall malignant nature (1,2,3).

Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer UK said “Whilst we welcome this legislative review of BPA in food packaging, it is vital that it is driven by the desire to protect public health and not simply by the desire to reduce the administrative burden for affected businesses.   A recent review of BPA concluded that it should be classified as a carcinogen and even EFSA acknowledged that it is “likely” to have effects on the liver, kidney and mammary gland.  BPA should be phased out of food contact materials and replaced with safer alternatives – lowering the SML will only have a limited effect on exposure levels and ignores evidence that suggests that even very small doses of BPA may cause harm.”  

A consultation is planned for the new year, to which Breast Cancer UK plan to submit comments.     


For more information on the links between BPA and breast cancer - read our info sheet on BPA  

Read Breast Cancer UK’s response to the EFSA consultation on BPA Health Risks here




1 Fernandez, M. F., J. P. Arrebola, et al. (2007). ‘Bisphenol-A and chlorinated derivatives in adipose tissue of women.’ Reprod Toxicol 24(2): 259-264. (Link to Abstract)

2 Fernandez, S, V et al. (2012). 'Expression and DNA methylation changes in human breast epithelial cells after bisphenol A (BPA) exposure.' Int J Oncol. 2012 July; 41(1): 369–377. Published online 2012 April 20. doi:10.3892/ijo.2012.1444.

3 Goodson, W. H., 3rd, M. G. Luciani, et al. (2011). ‘Activation of the mTOR pathway by low levels of xenoestrogens in breast epithelial cells from high-risk women.’ Carcinogenesis 32(11): 1724-1733. - See more here

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