Bisphenol A Bpa

EFSA Says Bisphenol A in Food is a Health Risk

April 19, 2023
After European Food Safety Authority report, European Commission authorities will have to decide on limits or a ban.

Following a semi-regular review of bisphenol A (BPA) in food products, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has determined for the first time the substance is a health concern for consumers across all age groups. The findings could presage a ban in Europe.

“In an extensive assessment of the scientific evidence, and after input from a public consultation, EFSA’s experts identified potentially harmful health effects on the immune system,” the authority wrote in a report publicized today (April 19).

The European Commission and national authorities are expected to discuss appropriate regulatory measures to follow up on EFSA’s advice.

BPA is a chemical substance used in combination with other chemicals to manufacture certain plastics and resins. It’s used, for example, in polycarbonate plastic, a transparent and rigid type of plastic used to make water dispensers, food storage containers and reusable beverage bottles. The substance is also used to produce epoxy resins found in protective coatings and linings for food and beverage cans and vats.

Chemicals such as BPA used in foodstuff containers can migrate in very small amounts to the food and drinks they contain, so EFSA’s scientists regularly review their safety, considering new data. Its dangers are also under study in the U.S. and Canada.

“Our scientists have examined the safety of BPA in great detail over the years since our first full risk assessment of the substance in 2006,” said Claude Lambré, chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids. “For this re-evaluation, we scrutinised a vast quantity of scientific publications, including over 800 new studies published since January 2013. This has allowed us to address important uncertainties about BPA’s toxicity.

“In the studies, we observed an increase in the percentage of a type of white blood cell, called T helper, in the spleen. They play a key role in our cellular immune mechanisms and an increase of this kind could lead to the development of allergic lung inflammation and autoimmune disorders,” he said.

The panel also took into account other potentially harmful health effects on the reproductive, developmental and metabolic systems that were identified in the risk assessment.

Compared to their previous assessment in 2015, EFSA’s expert panel significantly lowered the tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA, the amount that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without presenting an appreciable health risk. They established a TDI of 0.2 nanograms (0.2 billionths of a gram) per kilogram of body weight per day, around 20,000 times lower than previously suggested level of 4 micrograms (4 millionths of a gram) per kilogram of body weight per day.

European Union decision-makers, namely the European Commission and member state representatives, are responsible for setting limits on the amount of chemicals allowed in food. It’s expected they will discuss this in the coming months.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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