Scientific opinion on the safety of green tea catechins
Competing interests: In line with EFSA’s policy on declarations of interest, Panel member Gunter Georg Kuhnle did not participate in the development and adoption of this scientific output.
The EFSA ANS Panel was asked to provide a scientific opinion on the safety of green tea catechins from dietary sources including preparations such as food supplements and infusions. Green tea is produced from the leaves of Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze, without fermentation, which prevents the oxidation of polyphenolic components. Most of the polyphenols in green tea are catechins. The Panel considered the possible association between the consumption of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most relevant catechin in green tea, and hepatotoxicity. This scientific opinion is based on published scientific literature, including interventional studies, monographs and reports by national and international authorities and data received following a public ‘Call for data’. The mean daily intake of EGCG resulting from the consumption of green tea infusions ranges from 90 to 300 mg/day while exposure by high-level consumers is estimated to be up to 866 mg EGCG/day, in the adult population in the EU. Food supplements containing green tea catechins provide a daily dose of EGCG in the range of 5–1,000 mg/day, for adult population. The Panel concluded that catechins from green tea infusion, prepared in a traditional way, and reconstituted drinks with an equivalent composition to traditional green tea infusions, are in general considered to be safe according to the presumption of safety approach provided the intake corresponds to reported intakes in European Member States. However, rare cases of liver injury have been reported after consumption of green tea infusions, most probably due to an idiosyncratic reaction. Based on the available data on the potential adverse effects of green tea catechins on the liver, the Panel concluded that there is evidence from interventional clinical trials that intake of doses equal or above 800 mg EGCG/day taken as a food supplement has been shown to induce a statistically significant increase of serum transaminases in treated subjects compared to control.