EFSA begins new BPA review process

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

BPA safety has been the subject of debate for many years
BPA safety has been the subject of debate for many years

Related tags Bisphenol a

Work on another evaluation of bisphenol A (BPA) by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has started with a final scientific opinion scheduled for 2018.

The agency set up a working group to evaluate new scientific evidence on the potential effects of BPA on the immune system.

This evidence comes from a report by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) into the risks of the chemical on the environment and health​.

Immune system concerns

EFSA said it raises concerns about the effects of BPA on the immune system of fetuses and young children.

Two studies describing pre- and perinatal effects of BPA on the immune system by Menard et al.​ (2014) (one here​ and the other here​) were unpublished when the agency made its latest risk assessment.

Experts will follow up a discussion this week with a two-day meeting in the summer. 

EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) will make a scientific statement after its 13-15 September plenary meeting.

The panel reduced the tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA from 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (µg/kg bw/day) to 4 µg/kg bw/day in late 2014.

By setting a temporary TDI, the agency committed to a re-evaluation when a two-year study by the US National Toxicology Program is published in 2017.

Regulation news

The European Commission (EC) is planning to strengthen related regulation.

It proposed to lower the specific migration limit (SML) for BPA to 0.05 mg/kg from 0.6 mg/kg based on EFSA’s latest opinion.

The EC will also establish this updated SML in varnishes and coating intended to come into contact with food.

The proposed date of application is by the end of April 2017.

Which products contain BPA?

Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said it has created a database​ of processed food and drink items packaged in materials that may contain BPA using information from companies that manufacture and sell the products.

It has products from 926 brands including the lids of glass jars for baby food, pickles, jelly, salsa and other condiments; aerosol cans for whipped toppings and non-stick sprays; bottles and tins of cooking oil and aluminium beverage cans, metal coffee cans and beer kegs.

The industry list contains 11,879 unique product names.

EWG said due to variations in some products and incomplete information for others, it's calculation finds more than 16,000 traceable Universal Product Codes.

EWG said it downloaded files from an industry website which lists products then extracted the brand names, product descriptions and barcodes.

It added the data was matched against information in Food Scores, a database of products compiled by EWG to help consumers make food choices, and the matches were then hand-reviewed. 

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