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France Bans BPA in Food Packaging

Safer canned food is on its way to France. The French parliament recently voted to ban the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging, making it the first country in the world to do so.

BPA is used in the epoxy linings of metal food cans, in certain types of plastic and as a coating on thermal receipts. It's an endocrine disruptor, meaning that the chemical interferes with the way your body produces and regulates hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and insulin. Independent studies have linked the chemical to reproductive damage in children and certain metabolic disorders, such as obesity and heart disease.

Because of all the studies showing the potential damage that BPA can have on developing fetuses and infants, many countries have already banned its use in the polycarbonate plastics used to make baby bottles and sippy cups. However, the food lobby has been successful in defeating any ban on the chemical's use in canned goods, at least in the United States.

France's ban goes against even the cautious European Union's stance on the chemical; the EU has banned BPA in baby products and is currently re-evaluating its stance on BPA in food packaging but still allows its use. But they aren't acting fast enough for the French Agency for Food Health Safety. In October 2012, the Agency asked the European Chemicals Agency to classify BPA as a reproductive toxin, based on all the available scientific evidence, which eventually would have led to a ban on the chemical in the EU.

But France's parliament decided to pre-empt any decision by the European Chemicals Agency anyway, voting to ban the production, import, export and distribution of any form of food packaging that contains BPA as of January 1, 2014.