BPA update: working group to start reviewing new studies

A new EFSA working group of scientific experts will start evaluating recent toxicological data on the food contact material bisphenol A (BPA) this month.

EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids (CEP) will then re-assess the potential hazards of BPA in food and review the temporary safe level set in EFSA’s previous full risk assessment from 2015. This new assessment should be ready by 2020.

EFSA has assessed BPA as a substance used in food contact materials several times. In 2015 EFSA’s experts committed to re-evaluate the substance’s toxicity when the results of newly performed studies by the US Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity (CLARITY-BPA project) become available.

Dr Claudia Roncancio Peña, head of food ingredients and packaging at EFSA, said: “I’m pleased to announce that we have selected the experts for our new BPA working group.

“Their job is to review data published since December 2012 – the cut-off point of EFSA’s last assessment of BPA. They will be aided in this work by the scientific protocol for the hazard assessment of BPA, finalised by EFSA and a group of international experts in 2017 and then discussed during a public workshop.”

The protocol is a detailed plan that transparently defines upfront the scope, methodology and information needs before an assessment starts.

Responding to stakeholder feedback

Dr Roncancio Peña added: “As a first step, the experts will test EFSA’s new methodology for appraising evidence on BPA toxicity on a representative selection of key studies from previous assessments and publish the results. This is a direct response to feedback we received during the public consultation on the protocol.”

BPA: recent and upcoming milestones
  • 2015: EFSA opinion on BPA, temporary tolerable daily intake of 4 micrograms per kg of body weight

  • 2017: Consultation and workshop on scientific protocol for next BPA assessment, then published

  • Sep 2018: CEP Panel working group starts work

  • Oct 2018: Close of call for data

  • 2018-2019: Report on protocol testing on key pre-2013 studies

  • 2018-2020: Re-evaluation of BPA toxicity, new BPA hazard assessment

Data submission still open

EFSA launched a call for data for the hazard assessment of BPA and the deadline was recently extended to 15 October 2018. All relevant new studies and data on BPA published since 31 December 2012 can be submitted to EFSA for possible inclusion in this upcoming review of BPA safety.

The literature screening and the inclusion and exclusion of data to be extracted from the relevant studies will also follow the scientific protocol.

International dimension

The working group will evaluate the results of the CLARITY-BPA Program carried out in the US. The Core study from CLARITY-BPA was published in February 2018 and the outcome of the Consortium’s academic studies on potential health effects of BPA at low doses is expected by October 2018.

Dr Roncancio Peña said: “Experts from the CLARITY programme will be at EFSA’s Conference ‘Science, Food, Society’ this September to present the entire research programme. This is sure to benefit our own work on BPA.”

EFSA is also in regular contact with the European Chemicals Agency, whose work on the identification and classification of BPA under the REACH Regulation is continuing in tandem with EFSA’s assessment.

You can find links to the working group’s terms of reference and the experts’ CVs and declarations of interest below:

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