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Parliamentary questions
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22 March 2010
by Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE) and Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE)
to the Commission

 Subject: European Union regulatory framework for evaluating the risk to health of substances with endocrine-disrupting potential
 Answer in writing 

The Commission has looked into the issue of the substances used in food packaging and the risks that these can pose to health, basing its response on the evaluations performed by EFSA(1).

At present, chemical substances used in the European Union are evaluated from a risk perspective and regulated on the basis of their intended use: there are separate rules for industrial chemical substances, for plant protection products and for pharmaceutical products. However, there are no set procedures for the specific identification or risk evaluation of chemical substances that can affect hormonal balance in an organism (endocrine disruptors) and which are present in much of the packaging used for some foodstuffs and non‑food products. Under the current regulations, there is no clear definition, in the risk evaluation, regarding the toxicological mode of action of those substances. As a result, the criteria and requirements in the evaluation process for those substances may differ for the various endocrine disruptors. Plant protection products are applied to fruit and vegetables in order to control damaging organisms and increase production; pharmaceutical products are administered to patients in order to improve their health. Both are products designed to interact in a specific way with the organism. As well as that intended use, there are also the effects of unintentional and large‑scale consumer exposure to small concentrations of industrial and polluting substances which filter into foodstuffs.

Does the Commission consider the current framework for the risk evaluation of substances with endocrine‑disrupting potential to adequately protect consumers from the unintentional effects of those substances?

(1)See the answers to written questions to the Commission P‑6288/09 and E‑6424/09.

Original language of question: ROOJ C 138 E, 07/05/2011
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