California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed an emergency regulation under Proposition 65 to address potential exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) from canned and bottled foods and beverages.
OEHHA’s emergency regulation would promote the use of a temporary uniform point-of-sale warning message for BPA exposure for these products. The agency claims that these point-of –sale warnings will help to “avoid a potential misperception on the part of the public that the canned and bottled food supply poses an imminent health threat.”
OEHHA concurrently released a proposed safe harbor level for dermal exposure to BPA to establish a maximum allowable dose level (MADL) of 3 micrograms per day that is limited to dermal contact with solid materials made from BPA. A MADL is an established regulatory limit below which a Prop 65 warning is not required for a listed chemical. It is essentially a speed limit for chemical exposure levels that provides assurance to the regulated community that exposures below the established limit are considered to pose no significant risk of reproductive or developmental harm.
The MADL proposed by OEHHA was derived from was derived from the agency’s review of hazard identification materials that examined the effects of BPA on the female reproductive system.
The agency has not proposed a MADL for oral exposure to BPA, noting that “the timing of that regulatory action is dependent on the availability of necessary scientific information.”
BPA was added to the Prop 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause reproductive toxicity by the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity Identification Committee (DART-IC) on May 11, 2015, when the DART-IC unanimously identified the chemical as a female reproductive toxicant.
Prop 65 Warnings will be required for all exposures to BPA that exceed 1,000 times the No Observable Effect Level (NOEL) for the chemical, beginning on May 11, 2016.
According to OEHHA’s notice, many canned and food beverage manufacturers have begun to limit or eliminate BPA from their products. But due to the long shelf life of such products, “a reasonable transition period is needed to avoid consumer confusion and at the same time provide the required warning for significant exposures to BPA”.
The “point-of-sale” warning labels proposed in the emergency action be displayed when a customer pays for products in a retail outlet. The POS label must be at least 5 inches by 5 inches, and read:
“WARNING: Many cans containing foods and beverages sold here have epoxy linings used to avoid microbial contamination and extend shelf life. Lids on jars and caps on bottles may also have epoxy linings. Some of these linings can leach small amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) into the food or beverage. BPA is a chemical known to the State of California to cause harm to the female reproductive system. For more information go to: www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/BPA.”
Under the proposed rule, compliance with the BPA exposure warning requirement could be achieved through either affixing a standard “clear and reasonable” warning to the product, or by providing appropriate written notice – as outlined in the emergency regulation – to a retail seller regarding the point-of-sale warnings.
OEHHA says that this emergency action is needed because “widespread” Prop 65 warning labels could cause Californians to reduce or forego purchasing canned and bottled vegetables and fruits, “to the detriment of their own health.”