Impact of EDC criteria on food industry difficult to quantify - FDE

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

The debate on endocrine disrupting chemicals continues
The debate on endocrine disrupting chemicals continues

Related tags Endocrine disruptors Endocrine disruptor

FoodDrinkEurope said it is ‘difficult to quantify’ the impact of criteria on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the sector without knowing how they will be identified and classified.

Beate Kettlitz, from the industry association, presented at a European Commission conference on hormone (or endocrine) disrupting chemicals​ last week.

A further stakeholder conference is planned for later this year.

Legislation for biocidal and plant protection products requires the Commission to specify scientific criteria to determine endocrine-disrupting properties of chemical substances.

It is working towards choosing one of four policy options after an impact assessment.

Defining criteria to identify EDCs

FoodDrinkEurope welcomed discussion and efforts to define criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors as part of the plant protection product and biocidal products regulation.

“The food industry will indeed monitor the discussions. We have a legitimate interest in seeing which criteria will lead to defining an endocrine disruptor,” ​it said.

“Moreover as we have expressed our potential concerns in the presentation, we would like to contribute to a meaningful impact assessment before final decisions are made.

“We still think it is important to perform a socio economic assessment of the impact on industry before introducing risk management measures.” 

FoodDrinkEurope referenced potential impacts in a presentation and said this mostly refers to access of safe raw materials.

“For instance, banning certain fungicides might lead to an increase in mycotoxins which then do not comply with food safety standards; this in turn would mean that the raw material would not be suitable for us to use.”

Timeline outlined

The European Commission is looking at 700 chemicals to predict whether they could be considered as endocrine disruptors.

This is made up of 400 pesticides, 100 biocides and 100 REACH/cosmetic/Water Framework Directive chemicals, according to ChemTrust.

Gwynne Lyons, policy director of CHEM Trust, said people and wildlife are exposed to multiple chemicals by various sources.

“How can a single substance risk assessment, focusing on the exposure to just one chemical at a time, be the right tool to address the rising incidences of hormonal illnesses?

“The Commission has a moral obligation to act on chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties, given the hormone-related diseases in the population. Reducing and mimimisation of exposures is what the current law requires.”

The first study focuses on which chemicals may be identified as endocrine disruptors under the different options for the criteria. 

Joint Research Center (JRC) is developing a screening methodology and a contractor will start screening the substances.

A second study will assess potential impacts on health, environment, trade, agriculture, and socio-economy from regulatory actions regarding substances identified as endocrine disruptors.

This needs the results of the first study as an input and is expected to be finalised in 2016.

REACH, the system for regulating industrial chemicals, can subject EDCs to authorisation, so companies must apply to continue to use them or they will be removed from the market.

Estimations on the cost of EDCs have been done with exposure likely costing the European Union €157bn a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential, according to studies presented at ENDO 2015, the Endocrine Society’s 97th​ Annual Meeting & Expo. 

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) previously said exposure may be costing up to €31bn per year​.  

The Commission held a public consultation which it published earlier this year after receiving more than 27,000 responses.

Related topics Policy Food Safety & Quality

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