Scientific Opinion on Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) in Food: Brominated Phenols and their Derivatives


Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2012;10(4):2634 [42 pp.].
Panel members at the time of adoption
Jan Alexander, Diane Benford, Alan Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Alessandro Di Domenico, Daniel Doerge, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Metka Filipič, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Peter Fürst, Thierry Guerin, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Antonio Mutti, Martin Rose, Josef Schlatter and Rolaf van Leeuwen

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Brominated Flame Retardants in Food: Åke Bergman, Alan Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Metka Filipič, Peter Fürst, Niklas Johansson, Helle Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Franco Merletti, Olaf Päpke, Dieter Schrenk, Rolaf Van Leeuwen and Stefan Van Leeuwen for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and EFSA staff: Davide Arcella, Alessandro Carletti, Gina Cioacata and Luisa Ramos Bordajandi for the support provided to this scientific opinion.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
European Commission
Question Number
21 March 2012
Published in the EFSA Journal
16 April 2012
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

EFSA was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on brominated phenols and their derivatives, other than tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) or its derivatives, in food. Brominated phenols and their derivatives comprise a complex group of brominated flame retardants, used as reactive as well as additive flame retardants in a large range of resins and polyester polymers. A call for data was issued by EFSA in December 2009. No data on brominated phenols or their derivatives were submitted to EFSA. A limited number of occurrence data, covering the food group “Fish and other seafood”, was identified in the literature. Data from European sampling showed that 2,4,6-tribromophenol (2,4,6-TBP) predominates over the other brominated phenols. Toxicity studies are scarce and mostly relates to 2,4,6-TBP. The main targets are liver and kidneys. In a limited repeated dose oral toxicity study a no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) for 2,4,6-TBP of 100 mg/kg b.w. per day was identified. 2,4,6-TBP was not genotoxic in bacterial tests in vitro, and not in vivo, but induced chromosomal aberrations in mammalian cells in vitro. No long-term toxicity or carcinogenicity studies with 2,4,6-TBP were identified. The CONTAM Panel concluded that due to the limitations and uncertainties in the current database, the establishment of a health based guidance value for 2,4,6-TBP was not appropriate. Therefore, the Panel derived a margin of exposure to assess the level of possible health concern for high consumers of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. The CONTAM Panel concluded that it is unlikely that current dietary exposure to 2,4,6-TBP in the European Union would raise a health concern. Also exposure of infants to 2,4,6-TBP via breast feeding is unlikely to raise a health concern. Due to lack of data a risk assessment of the other brominated phenols or their derivatives is not possible.

Brominated phenols, tribromophenol, pentabromophenol, occurrence, food, toxicity, human exposure, risk assessment
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