2009-2010 Bisphenol-A in Infant Food and Formula

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objectives of the bisphenol-A survey were:

  • To provide baseline surveillance data for a variety of infant foods and infant formula
  • To examine the link between different types of packaging and the levels of bisphenol-A in food

Two hundred samples were collected and analyzed for bisphenol-A. They consisted of 100 infant food samples (cereals, fruit & vegetable purees and mixed meals) and 100 infant formula samples (powdered, ready-to-serve and concentrated). Samples with a wide variety of packaging materials were selected to explore the link between packaging and levels of bisphenol-A. The types of packaging were:

  • plastic cups/trays (plastic)
  • paperboard coated with waterproof plastic (paper-plastic)
  • paperboard cans with metal ends (paper-metal)
  • metal cans (metal)
  • glass jars with metal lids (glass-metal).

From a total of 200 samples, 59% did not contain detectable levels of bisphenol-A. Bisphenol-A was not detected in any of the powdered infant formulas or infant cereals sampled for this survey. These samples were packaged in metal, paper-plastic or paper-metal containers, and consisted of dry ingredients, which would make migration of bisphenol-A from any potential packaging source unlikely. Detection of bisphenol-A was minimal in infant food (9%). These samples were packaged in glass containers with metal lids or individual serving plastic containers. Conversely, 65% of ready-to-serve infant formula and 100% of concentrated infant formula samples tested contained measurable residues of bisphenol-A. All concentrated infant formula samples selected were in metal cans. Ready-to-serve infant formulas were mostly in metal cans, but a few were also found in glass bottles with metal lids.

When examined as a function of food packaging, no detectable levels of bisphenol-A were found for samples in plastic, paper-plastic and paper-metal packaging. The 82 samples in which bisphenol-A was detected were in metal cans (70 of 89 samples, 79%) and glass jars with metal lids (12 of 32 samples, 38%). Bisphenol-A is a component of the can/lid liner which is used to prevent direct contact of food with metal. Residues in these linings can migrate into foods especially at elevated temperatures. The levels of bisphenol-A in infant food and infant formula observed in this survey ranged from 1.4 to 9.6 ppb. These levels are consistent with previous findings obtained in Canada and the United States. Consumption of these products would result in exposures well below the provisional tolerable daily intake of 25 μg/kg body weight per day established by Health Canada.

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