21-Jan-2014 - European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

Bisphenol A: EFSA consults on assessment of risks to human health

EFSA is launching a public consultation on its draft assessment of the human health risks posed by exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). The Authority has undertaken a comprehensive review of scientific literature and previous risk assessments from expert bodies on BPA. All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to comment on the document through an online public consultation that runs until 13 March 2014. EFSA particularly welcomes input from national risk assessment bodies that have previously evaluated BPA. As part of its commitment to openness and engagement, EFSA will also hold a meeting with stakeholders to discuss feedback received from the consultation.

BPA is a chemical compound used in food contact materials such as packaging and other consumer products. In March 2012, EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) decided to undertake a full re-evaluation of the human risks associated with exposure to BPA through both dietary and non-dietary sources such as thermal paper and dust. To ensure EFSA had access to the most recent studies, the Authority liaised closely with European and national bodies engaged in BPA evaluations as well as with other scientific experts on studies currently in progress.

EFSA reviewed over 450 studies relating to potential health hazards associated with BPA and identified likely adverse effects on the liver and kidney and effects on the mammary gland as being linked to exposure to the chemical. It therefore recommends that the current tolerable daily intake (TDI) be lowered. The Authority also noted that uncertainties remained over a number of other health hazards considered as less likely. As a result the proposed TDI should be set on a temporary basis pending the outcome of research from the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) which will address many of these current uncertainties about the potential health effects of BPA. However, EFSA concludes that BPA poses a low health risk to consumers as exposure to the chemical is well-below the temporary TDI.

EFSA said that much of the science underpinning these conclusions is still developing and this draft opinion therefore contains a number of uncertainties. The CEF Panel will complete an assessment of these uncertainties in the final version of the opinion due to be published later in 2014.

Iona Pratt, Chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF), said: “The risk assessment of BPA has been hugely complex. EFSA concludes there is an estimated safe level of exposure to BPA – known as the TDI – but has reduced this and set it on a temporary basis because of continuing uncertainties over the risks posed by the chemical. Our experts have identified health hazards associated with exposure to BPA. However, we say the risk to human health is low because consumer exposure to BPA is below the temporary TDI (t-TDI). While we have analysed the best available evidence using state-of-science methods, we recognise that understanding in these areas is constantly advancing. Therefore our conclusions are as definitive as they can be in light of current data.”

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