Bisphenol battle: Indonesia formalises new regulations mandating BPA leaching warnings on water bottles

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Indonesia has published new regulations mandating that all water bottles made with polycarbonate packaging that contains the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) must now attach a sign to warn consumers of potential leaching. ©Getty Images
Indonesia has published new regulations mandating that all water bottles made with polycarbonate packaging that contains the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) must now attach a sign to warn consumers of potential leaching. ©Getty Images

Related tags Indonesia Bpa regulations

The Indonesian government has published new regulations mandating that all water bottles made with polycarbonate packaging that contains the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) must now attach a sign to warn consumers of potential leaching.

Earlier this year, Indonesia had already announced its intentions to revise local food packaging regulations​ in response to consumer and academic concerns over the presence of dangerous chemicals such as BPA in food packaging.

In a new update focused on BPA and its potential harmful effects on public health, the Indonesian Food and Drug Agency (BPOM) announced new regulations mandating bottled water manufacturers to warn consumers of the risks of BPA in bottles made using polycarbonate.

“Based on the results of studies into the risk of BPA in drinking water on potential public health problems, and to protect the public from this risk, PBOM has determined that changes to the regulations are necessary,”​ PBOM Head Lucia Rizka Andalusia said via a formal statement.

“From the date of enforcement, all bottled drinking water that is made using polycarbonate packaging must now carry a BPA warning on the respective labels.

“This warning must include the words: ‘Under certain conditions, polycarbonate packaging can release BPA into the drinking water contained inside this packaging.”

In addition, BPOM hopes to minimise the potential of any BPA leaching by highlighting suitable conditions for bottled water storage.

“The packaging for bottled drinking water should now also include storage directions on the label of the bottles,”​ she added.

“These directions must include the words: ‘Store in a clean and cool place, keep away from direct sunlight and also from objects with strong smells/odours.”

All bottled water manufacturers will be given a four-year transition period to update the labels of their products to include both the warning and the storage instructions, after which penalties will become applicable.

“These regulations are considered to have already come into force, and companies must be in full compliance with these provisions no later than four years from the date of promulgation in April 2024,”​ the BPOM notice stated.

BPA fears

Indonesia has seen a long history of debates surrounding the permittance of BPA in plastic bottles, not only in drinking water, and both consumers on social media and academic groups have previously highlighted policies governing this as a matter of urgency.

Many studies have associated BPA in the human body with endocrine disruption, meaning that this can cause tissue or organ damage by mimicking the effects of hormones, leading to effects throughout the body from the reproductive system to the immune system. It has also been linked with carcinogenesis or cancer-causation in animal models.

BPOM’s move to enforce warnings and storage instructions are undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it is unlikely that any sort of outright ban can come into play any time soon given the widespread use of polycarbonate as a packaging material in the country.

There is a permitted limit in place for BPA in food contact material entering the food item in Indonesia which is 600µg per kilogramme. In general, BPA use in containers with foods and beverages meant for babies and young children is prohibited in many markets including China, India, Malaysia and the EU.

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