The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has started work on its new risk assessment of bisphenol A (BPA), used in food contact materials, focussing in particular on exposure of vulnerable groups. The new opinion will complement earlier scientific advice provided at the request of the European Commission. EFSA will review all the available data and scientific studies on dietary exposure published since its 2006 opinion on BPA and also take into consideration the contribution of non-dietary sources to overall exposure to BPA. Experts on EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) will further evaluate uncertainties about the possible relevance to human health of some BPA-related effects observed in rodents at low dose levels. New findings from ongoing studies on low dose effects as well as on dietary and non-dietary exposure to BPA will be considered as they become available during 2012. EFSA is also convening a Colloquium of international experts to debate the most recent scientific evidence of low dose effects in toxicology and the challenges this poses for risk assessment.
At its February 2012 plenary meeting the CEF Panel proposed a co-ordinated work plan for the full re-evaluation of the human risks associated with exposure to BPA through the diet by May 2013. This initiative was taken in light of EFSA’s ongoing monitoring of scientific research on BPA and the CEF Panel’s further consideration of new scientific studies. Two multidisciplinary working groups of experts have been established to focus, respectively, on the hazard characterisation of BPA (concerning its toxicological effects) and on exposure to BPA (how and how much BPA is absorbed by the human body). To enhance EU-wide cooperation, experts from national authorities undertaking related scientific work on BPA have also been invited to contribute to the working groups.
In recent years, efforts have been made to reduce exposure to BPA, particularly for vulnerable population groups such as infants, children and pregnant women, and baby bottles made of BPA-containing polycarbonate plastics have been banned. EFSA will launch a call for data from Member States to provide an up-to-date indication of the occurrence of BPA in food as well as the amount of BPA residue that migrates from food contact materials into food.
In carrying out this comprehensive risk assessment EFSA will also liaise with scientific experts in the Member States and in the United States on risk assessment reports in preparation and on large scale studies currently in progress. Further, EFSA will specifically tackle the issue of low dose effects in toxicology and risk assessment at its dedicated Scientific Colloquium, taking place in Parma on 14-15 June; several leading scientists from Europe and North America have already confirmed their attendance. Registration for the Colloquium is open until 4 May 2012* or until seating capacity is filled.
EFSA completed its full risk assessment of BPA in 2006 and set a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of 0.05 mg/kg body weight/day for this substance. EFSA has updated its scientific advice on BPA several times since 2006, reconfirming the TDI in 2008, 2010 and 2011. The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance, expressed on a body weight basis, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable risk. EFSA also evaluated intakes of BPA through food and drink, for adults, infants and children and found that they were all well below the TDI.
* This deadline was extended from 30 April to 4 May 2012 [Updated on 25 April 2012].