EU says BPA is safe for humans at current exposure levels

It may not change any entrenched opinions, but, for the record, the European Union's food safety watchdog has just published a report that categorically states that humans face no health risks from exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; Parma, Italy) came to the conclusion following a new risk assessment, its first since 2006, and this despite reducing the safe level of BPA from 50 micrograms to 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. The revised tolerable daily intake (TDI) was established based on new data and refined methodologies that were not available for the previous assessment.

BPA is a chemical compound used in the manufacture of polycarbonate for a range of food-contact products. It is also present in thermal paper typically used in ATM receipts. Animal studies have shown that BPA in high doses—more than 100 times the TDI, according to EFSA—can have an adverse effect on the kidney and liver. There is also some evidence that it may have an effect on mammary glands and the reproductive, metabolic, neurobehavioral, and immune systems in rodents.

The expert panel dealing with food contact materials concluded that, while doses of BPA that are hundreds of times above the TDI are likely to have an adverse effect on the kidney and liver, current exposure levels pose no health risks to consumers. The highest estimates for aggregated exposure to BPA from dietary and non-dietary sources are three to five times lower than the TDI, depending on the age group, according to EFSA.

The new TDI is temporary and will be reconsidered when the results of a long-term research project by the U.S. National Toxicology Program are made available in two or three years, adds EFSA.

This new risk assessment follows on the heels of an FDA safety assessment, which also concluded that the chemical is safe for humans at current levels occurring in food-contact applications, as PlasticsToday reported in December 2014.

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