Bisphenol A: EFSA Call for Data on Exposure from Dietary and Non-Dietary Sources

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in the manufacture of food contact materials such as polycarbonate bottles and can linings. In 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA or 0.05 mg/kg body weight.1 Due to concerns about the safety of BPA in young children, some European countries have banned BPA in containers holding foods for children under three years old.2,3 France has proposed an outright ban of BPA in all food containers, based on a report issued in 2011 by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES).4,5 The ANSES report concluded that health effects of BPA “have been proven in animals and suspected in humans, even at low levels of exposure that are below current regulatory thresholds.”5

Despite the ANSES report, EFSA has not altered the TDI of 0.05 mg BPA/kg body weight.5 However, EFSA is not convinced that this TDI is sufficient for sensitive populations. Recently, EFSA announced that it will be conducting an exposure assessment of BPA in dietary and non-dietary sources which will include exposure of the most vulnerable groups of the population (e.g. pregnant women, infants and children).6 This exposure assessment will be an integral part of a new risk assessment on BPA that will be issued by EFSA in May 2013. Member States and other stakeholders (including food business operators) are invited to submit data on BPA, including occurrence data in food and beverages intended for human consumption, migration data from food contact materials and occurrence data in food contact materials. Comments are due by July 31, 2012. Interested parties are urged to provide exposure data to EFSA, in order for EFSA to accurately predict BPA exposure from dietary and non-dietary sources.

For those of you that have phased out use of polycarbonate bottles in packaging, be advised that you are not out of reach of the arm of EFSA, regarding BPA. A New European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) study showed that BPA is detected in some substitute plastics for baby bottles (e.g. polyamides).7 Consequently, the JRC has recommended intensifying testing of substitute plastics now in use in member EU states. Due to continued concerns about low-dose effects of BPA, and the desire to perform an accurate exposure assessment, it is expected that Europe will be stepping up efforts to detect BPA in food containers. To stay ahead of the game, be proactive and analyze your new food contact material for BPA, even if you believe it could not be present.

References

  1. 2007. Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food on a request from the commission related to 2,2-bis(4-hydoxyphenyl)propane (Bisphenol A). EFSA Journal 428: 1-75.

  2. 2012. Belgium to ban BPA in food containers for toddlers. Food Chemical News. March 23, 2012.

  3. Burke, M. 2012. Sweden bans BPA in food packaging for under-threes. RSC. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2012/April/baby-children-food-bpa-ban-sweden.asp

  4. Knight, C. 2012. USDA: French BPA ban would “impact and jeopardize” US exports. Food Chemical News. February 17, 2012.

  5. 2011. Statement on the ANSES reports on Bisphenol A. EFSA Journal 9(12) 2475.

  6. 2012. Call for Bisphenol A occurrence data in food and beverages intended for human consumption, migration data from and occurrence data in food contact materials. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/data/call/120514.pdf

  7. European Commission. 2012. JRC scientists finalised study on release of chemical substances from 450 plastic baby bottles. http://ihcp.jrc.ec.europa.eu/our_activities/food-cons-prod/food_contact_materials/jrc-scientists-finalised-study-on-release-of-chemical-substances-from-450-plastic-baby-bottles