2010-2011 – Bisphenol A in infant formulae and foods

Executive Summary

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

The main objective of this targeted survey was to:

  • generate baseline surveillance data on the levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in infant formulae, processed, pre-packaged fruit products, and fruit juices available on the Canadian retail market.

BPA is a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate and epoxy resins. Food and beverage packaging, particularly metal cans, may be internally coated with epoxy resins to protect food from direct contact with metal. BPA can migrate from the epoxy coatings into food, particularly at elevated temperatures (for example, in hot-filled or heat-processed canned foods).

Health Canada has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children. This conclusion has been re-affirmed by other international food regulatory agencies, including those of Canada's major trading partners. As a result, the use of BPA in food packaging materials has not been prohibited in Canada. Health Canada has recommended that the general principle of ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) be applied by food packaging manufacturers and food processors to limit dietary BPA exposure from food packaging, particularly for products consumed by infants and newborns.

The 2010-2011 BPA Survey targeted domestic and imported infant formulae, processed, pre-packaged fruit products, and fruit juices. A total of 234 samples were collected from retail stores in 11 Canadian cities between October 2010 and March 2011. The samples collected included 127 dairy and soy infant formula samples (powdered, ready-to-serve and concentrate), 92 processed, pre-packaged fruit product samples, and 15 fruit juice samples. A variety of food packaging materials were sampled, particularly those expected to have epoxy coatings (including plastic, paperboard coated with waterproof plastic, paperboard cans with metal ends, metal cans, and glass jars with metal lids).

Bisphenol A was not detected in any sample in this survey. Given that none of the samples in this survey were positive for BPA, follow-up actions were not deemed necessary.

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