Home / About /
Plastics have only been around since the 20th Century, but there are many problems associated with petroleum-based plastics and it is a complicated issue. We understand the concerns consumers have when trying to make ethical choices faced with confusing technical information and conflicting scientific studies. We continue to stay in touch with our customers and our suppliers and keep abreast of current research. The integrity of our brand is very important to us and we take care to be a trusted source of information for our customers.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a hard, clear plastic resin used in food and drink containers to act as a protective layer between food and the metal. Mainly used as a coating on metal lids for glass jars and bottles, in water bottles and thermal receipt paper.
Is BPA a risk to health?
Research suggests that small amounts of BPA may leach into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers and that BPA can be absorbed in the body when that food is consumed. BPA is a toxin and can act as an endocrine disruptor; a substance which mimics or blocks natural human hormones. BPA leaching occurs in such small amounts, research concludes, as to be negligible. You would have to eat a huge amount of tinned food every day to come close to the upper recommended level of ‘safe’ doses.
Legal safe limits and legislation
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), supporting the approach taken by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), notes that ‘on the balance of evidence, at current levels of exposure there is no appreciable health risk’
Revised classification, backed by EU member state officials in February 2018, will come into force on 6th September 2018 reclassifying it as ‘highly hazardous’ for reproduction.
Substances are classified in Category 1 for reproductive toxicity when they are known to have produced an adverse effect on sexual function and fertility, or on development in humans or when there is evidence from animal studies, possibly supplemented with other information, to provide a strong presumption that the substance has the capacity to interfere with reproduction in humans. The classification of a substance is further distinguished on the basis of whether the evidence for classification is primarily from human data (Category 1A) or from animal data (Category 1B).
The Association of Plastics Manufacturers say that
“The reprotox 1B classification of BPA will not affect compliance of BPA based food contact materials with the respective legislation.”
The new legal limit is 0,05 mg/Kg.
The amount of BPA in Suma canned sweetcorn, for example is lower than 0,01 mg/kg and therefore much less than the legal limits. Of course, many of our customers may feel that ‘no appreciable risk’ is still too much. Some people may be more susceptible to the risks, such as pregnant women. A law prohibiting the use of BPA in food packaging of any kind went into effect in France in 2015. The US has attempted to pass similar legislation outlawing the use of BPA in all food containers, most recently with the introduction of the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2016.
Is there a safe substitute to BPA?
Some of our suppliers can provide us with BPA-free can linings, but this is not an avenue that we are actively pursuing for our Suma brand range.
We feel that BPA-free is a misleading term. Substitutes like bisphenol F (BPF) and Bisphenol S (BPS) are very similar in terms of chemical structure to BPA and there are indicators that they may have similar health effects. The volume of research is not in place to show long-term health effects of substitutes.
Is glass the answer? Not necessarily. Glass bottled foods often have a metal lid with a plastic lining, so even products packaged in glass are rarely plastic-free.
Who is actually responsible?
As a food manufacturer Suma has the responsibility to choose the most appropriate packaging to protect the food product to ensure safety and longevity and to support our customers, consumers and retailers in meeting their responsibilities.
Suppliers of all Suma Brand products in canned, glass and plastic have been contacted to ask them about the presence of BPA in the packaging.
We appreciate the efforts of our suppliers to be as transparent as possible. An option for a BPA-free range is Amy’s Kitchen; the material they use is a double-coated protective barrier and does not contain:
- Bisphenol A (BPA)
- Bisphenol S (BPS)
- Bisphenol F (BPF)
Until research develops a safe, tested alternative to BPA, we feel that it is better to stock Suma Brand products deemed officially to be safe, than to encourage a move to an alternative that may turn out to be worse.
We also fully appreciate that some customers have a stronger stance, reducing exposure to BPA by avoiding plastic containers and canned foods – opting instead for food and beverages that are stored in glass, porcelain and stainless steel containers.
We hope you enjoy shopping with us. We will keep up to date with the latest research and we are happy for you to contact us with any concerns or questions