Bisphenol F in Mustard – How Does This Bisphenol A-Similar Substance End Up in This Spice?

Ein Bericht aus unserem Laboralltag

Ulrike Kielmeier



Metal containers for food, such as cans, tubes and drink cans, are often coated on the inside in order to protect the food/drink from exposure to the metal. Bisphenols and bisphenol derivatives are used in the production of this coating. However, as a result of public criticism due to the endocrinal effect of bisphenol A (BPA), manufacturers are looking for alternatives. There are often no toxicological evaluations available for BPA-similar (analog) substances. CVUA Stuttgart analyzed 16 tubes of mustard for the presence of bisphenol A and 16 other bisphenol derivatives and analogs and discovered high levels of bisphenol F (BPF).


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Comparison of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol F

BPA is used for the production of various plastics and synthetic resins. It is currently categorized by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as toxic for reproduction. Compounds that are toxic for reproduction can impair fertility and damage the fetus.


BPF is a structural analogue of BPA, meaning that both substances have a very similar structure (see below). Such analogues can have similar biological effects. Confirming whether this is the case, however, requires laborious and lengthy scientific studies.


Structural formula BPA and BPF.


Analytical Results

A total of 16 tubes of mustard were analyzed, including 9 medium-spicy, 5 spicy or extra spicy, and 2 sweet mustards.




The mustard was prepared using the QuEChERS method and the extracted substances were analyzed via UHPLC-MS/MS (Ultra High Performing Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry). BPF was found in amounts of between 850 µg/kg and 6,200 µg/kg in 11 samples of sweet and medium-spicy mustard. It was noteworthy that all 5 samples of spicy and extra spicy mustards contained either no BPF or only very small amounts of less than 35 µg/kg. The results are presented in the following graph.


Illustration: BPF amounts in sweet, medium spicy, and spicy/extra spicy mustard.

Illustration: BPF amounts in sweet, medium spicy, and spicy/extra spicy mustard.


Some of the samples of medium and spicy mustards were produced by the same manufacturer. As it is assumed that the manufacturer uses the same types of tubes for a variety of products, the different findings for the medium and spicy mustards is remarkable.


Interpretation of results – BPF occurs during mustard production

The results lead to the conclusion that the BPF does not come from the packaging. The Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) had already detected quantities of BPF in sweet and medium spicy mustard in earlier investigations. One such study confirmed that BPF was not caused by contaminated packaging, but from glucosinates that occur naturally during the production of the mustard. (


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Glucosinolates, also mustard oil glycosides, are sulfuric and nitrogenous compounds responsible for the spicy taste in mustard and other cruciferous (brassica) plants. White mustard, used for the production of mild and medium-spicy mustards, contains the glucosinolate sinalbin. Brown mustard, used for the spicier mustards, contains mainly sinigrin.


Structural formula sinigrin and sinalbin.




According to the FSVO, BPF only exists in sweet and medium-spicy mustards because during production its formation is connected with the presence of sinalbin in white mustard. The precise method of formation has yet to be determined ([3]). The data from CVUA Stuttgart confirm this statement, however.


Evaluation: is BPF detrimental to one’s health?

BPF is a structural analog of BPA, for which there are insufficient toxicological evaluations and no legal limit value established thus far. In their opinion from 8 June, 2015, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) came to the conclusion that unwanted health effects associated with bisphenol F in mustard are unlikely. The basis for this judgment is a so-called exposure estimate, where the average intake of BPF by an adult is estimated. Assuming an average daily consumption of 4 g mustard, using the maximum measured amount of 6,200 µg BPF/kg mustard yields a daily intake of 0.35 µg/kg body weight for a 70 kg adult. Due to the structural similarity of BPF and BPA, the provisional tolerable daily intake (t-TDI) value for BPA of 4 µg/kg body weight, derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the health-based assessment of BPF, is used. The estimated daily intake of 0.35 µg BPF/kg body weight is significantly lower than the t-TDI of 4 µg/kg body weight and day for BPA. Based on current scientific knowledge, the amount of BPF detected in these mustard samples presents little danger for human health.


Nevertheless, the BfR points out that the available data is too limited, and that further toxicological studies as well as estimations regarding exposure are necessary for a definitive assessment.




[1] Veröffentlichung des Schweizer Bundesamtes für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Veterinärwesen BLV (19.06.2015)
[2] Bewertung des Bundesinstitutes für Risikobewertung zu möglichen gesundheitlichen Risiken durch Bisphenol F in Senf – 08. Juni 2015
[3] Bisphenol F in Senf: Fakten und Risikobewertung des BLV


Artikel erstmals erschienen am 24.08.2015