European panel finds BPA not a problem … for now

Following a comprehensive review of recent scientific literature and studies on the toxicity of bisphenol A (BPA) at low doses, scientists on the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel concluded they could not identify any new evidence that would lead them to revise the current Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for BPA of 0.05 mg/kg body weight set by EFSA in its 2006 opinion and re-confirmed in its 2008 opinion. The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance, expressed on a body weight basis that can be ingested over a lifetime without appreciable risk. The panel also stated the data currently available do not provide convincing evidence of BPA neurobehavioral toxicity.

“For the third time since 2007, and as a result of a comprehensive review of more than 800 recent studies, EFSA has again confirmed that BPA is safe for use in products that come in contact with food,” says Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., of the American Chemistry Council. “Consumers around the world can be reassured that EFSA’s intense scientific scrutiny continues to reaffirm the safety of BPA in food contact applications, and again concludes that established safe intake levels for BPA provide a sufficient margin of safety for protection of consumers, including for infants and young children.”

One EFSA Panel member, however, expressed a minority opinion, saying some recent studies point to uncertainties regarding adverse health effects below the level used to determine the current TDI. Although the member agreed with the rest of the panel’s general view that these studies could not be used to establish a lower TDI, the expert recommended the current TDI should become temporary.

The CEF Panel (on food contact materials, enzymes, flavorings and processing aids) members acknowledged some recent studies report adverse effects on animals exposed to BPA during development at doses well below those used to determine the current TDI. These studies show biochemical changes in the central nervous system, effects on the immune system and enhanced susceptibility to breast cancer. However, these studies have many shortcomings. At present, the relevance of these findings for human health cannot be assessed, though should any new relevant data become available in the future, the panel will reconsider this opinion.

The latest work carried out by EFSA scientists followed a request from the European Commission to:

  • Carry out a review of recent scientific literature on the toxicity of BPA to assess whether the TDI should be updated.
  • Assess a new study on possible neuro-developmental effects (i.e., possible effects to the brain and central nervous system) of BPA in rats, known as the Stump study
  • Advise on the risk assessment by Denmark’s DTU Food Institute.

Bisphenol A is used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic found in such items as reusable drinking bottles, infant feeding bottles and storage containers, and in the lining of some food and drinks cans. Due to the possible association of BPA with negative health effects, the endocrine-active substance has been the subject of considerable attention worldwide.

EFSA held consultations in recent months with experts from across Europe and scientific discussions with several international risk assessment authorities, such as the US FDA, Health Canada and the World Health Organization on the subject of BPA, including the design of scientific studies on BPA, toxicological aspects and the strengths and weaknesses of certain studies.

EFSA is monitoring ongoing publications on BPA and is aware of studies being carried out and planned worldwide. Furthermore, some panel members are involved in EFSA’s ongoing work to monitor trends and developments in the assessment of health risks of endocrine-active substances.

To read a six-page summary of the panel’s report or to download the entire 116-page opinion, visit the scientific documents page on the EFSA website.

Kevyn Renner. Source: GMA.

Re-thinking simulation and modeling

Figuring out the future through modeling and simulation has transformed industries like defense, aviation and automotive-and now stands poised to do the same for manufacturing in the consumer products industry. Working in virtual space can overcome time zones, speed trials and learning cycles; save time and money; improve speed-to-market; foster innovation; and create a whole new way of working for next-generation manufacturing professionals.

Kevyn Renner, senior technology consultant, Chevron Global Manufacturing, will describe real asset virtualization environments-featuring manufacturing avatars and 3-D manufacturing possibilities-evolving out of the online gaming space during GMA’s Manufacturing Excellence Conference. His talk is entitled “Back to the Future in CPG Manufacturing: Re-thinking Simulation and Modeling.” The conference is co-located with PACK EXPO at McCormick Place in Chicago, November 1 and 2.

For more information, visit the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s Pack Expo website.

Energy management under control--what about carbon?

Energy and carbon management are two critical components in any organization’s sustainability program. According to a study, Carbon and Energy Management in Manufacturing Operations, from the Aberdeen Group, nearly 72 percent of the 120 organizations responding expect to maintain investments at about the same level this year as they did last year for energy and carbon management programs.

The decline in the GDP and the total industrial output due to the downturn in the economy has resulted in the industrial sector realizing the greatest drop (9.9 percent) in energy consumption out of all the other sectors in the US (residential, commercial and transportation). This is expected to change, however, as the economy is starting to grow with the improved credit market, says the study.

The early release of the 2010 Annual Energy Outlook published by the US Energy Information Administration reveals that more than one-third of delivered energy consumption occurs in the industrial sector. The publication also points out current economic growth, combined with the increased use of coal in the electric power sector, will contribute to expected increases in CO2 emissions of 2.1 percent and 1.1 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

All of the above trends will put pressure on manufacturing industry executives to manage energy and emissions across their operations. The study shows how some of the most successful companies in the world manage energy and carbon programs while achieving greater profitability and managing internal and external compliance mandates. The study uses four key performance criteria to distinguish best-in-class companies: 12 percent reduction in emissions, 13 percent reduction in energy consumption, overachievement of energy consumption goals by 17 percent and overachievement of operating margin goals by 12 percent.

The study reveals 40 percent of the total respondents have had an established energy program for more than three years as compared to 16 percent for carbon programs (see table below). While this is not surprising-energy is a big cost factor in total production costs for many plants-the interest in carbon management programs is expected to increase.

Energy and carbon management programs


Energy management

Carbon management

More than three years



One to three years



Less than one year



Currently planning



No plans



Source: The Aberdeen Group.

When it comes to carbon management, compliance to current and future regulations will be a major driver in US companies’ focus on carbon management. In addition, pressure from customers demanding eco-friendly products and from peer organizations to join the sustainability bandwagon will provide an impetus. Mandates from clients to reduce energy and carbon will also have a motivational effect to reduce carbon emissions.

For more information on the report, visit the Aberdeen Group website.

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) joins the Automation Federation

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) joined the Automation Federation (AF) during the recent ISA Automation Week 2010. The two organizations signed a formal agreement to collaborate on efforts to advance and grow the automation profession. Through its agreement with and membership in the Automation Federation, the IET will join AF and the other AF member organizations-the International Society of Automation (ISA), the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) and the Wireless Industrial Network Alliance (WINA)-in joint activities devoted to promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); the Automation Competency Model; and the general public’s awareness of automation and technology.

Processors join forces to address critical industry issues

The Grocery Manufacturers Association created an industry forum and working group called UpStream to address critical issues faced by food and beverage manufacturers.


State of Food Manufacturing: Spending is up as economy rebounds

Capital budgets are up, production outlooks are brighter as food industry professionals shift focus toward new opportunities.  

Packaging Machinery Innovation: Dramatic improvements worth the wait

There’s no shortage of packaging equipment innovation, though the gap between technical development and implementation often is measured in decades. 

Tech Update: Clean-in-place equipment

Food safety concerns require effective and shorter cleaning times. As a result, CIP components must withstand higher temperatures and harsher chemicals.

Engineering R&D: Research's long and winding slog

A decade after a Canadian firm developed a process to recover high-quality protein from a byproduct of vegetable-oil extraction, regulatory obstacles to commercialization have been overcome.

People, Plant and Industry News

Bunge North America announced the opening of the Bunge Ingredient Innovation Center for Edible Oils & Carbohydrates in Bradley, IL.


WILD Flavors, Inc. has partnered with The ET Horn Company, a distributor, manufacturer and marketer of specialty chemicals and ingredients.


Air Liquide is investing in a new carbon dioxide recovery and liquefaction plant at the Wissington, UK site of British Sugar.


The Haskell Company completed the acquisition of E²M, an Atlanta-based manufacturing system integration company.


Alfa Laval, which began US operations in 1885 as De Laval Separator Company, celebrated 125 years of service in the US.


Wilden, an operating company within Dover Corporation’s Pump Solutions Group, promoted Rob Guertin to the position of marketing manager.


The Coca-Cola Company announced that the US Federal Trade Commission and Canadian Competition Bureau have both cleared the company’s proposed acquisition of the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises.


Dean Foods reports that Harrald Kroeker, president of the Fresh Dairy Direct (FDD) division, will be leaving the company. In addition, the company promoted Chris Sliva to the new position of Dean Foods chief commercial officer. Sliva is currently president of the Morningstar Division of Dean Foods.


Unilever entered into a definitive agreement to sell its consumer tomato products business in Brazil to Cargill for approximately R$600 million (around EUR 260 million)


The Automation Federation announced that the Institution of Engineering and Technology joined as the association’s newest member organization.


Four machine builders have joined the Rockwell Automation Machine Builder Program. They are Scott Springfield Manufacturing, Inc., Stolle Machinery, Vecoplan and Wulftec M.J. Maillis.


FANUC FA America and Rockwell Automation announced a collaborative effort to offer closer integration between CNC and programmable automation controller environments.


Hollison Technologies was awarded a US patent covering the collection, detection and identification of contaminants in particulates.