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EFSA Risk Assessment on Bisphenol A Finds No Consumer Health Risks

On the heels of the 2014 favorable safety assessment for bisphenol A (BPA), another major reevaluation has found that the epoxy resins used to line metal food cans pose no health risk to consumers of any age group at current exposure levels.

Sounding the all-clear signal for BPA this time is the influential European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has found that exposure to BPA from any combination of sources — diet, cosmetics, and thermal paper — is considerably less than the safe level, or “tolerable daily intake” (TDI).

EFSA’s reevaluation of BPA did cause the European Union agency to drop its safe level to just 4 micrograms per day, down from the previously established level of 50 micrograms (per kilogram of body weight per day.)

The decision to lower the safe limit came with EFSA’s finding that exposure from any combination of sources is still three to five times lower than the new TDI.

BPA is a chemical compound used in everything from plastic tableware to can coatings to the thermal paper used in cash-register receipts. BPA residues can migrate into food and beverages, where it is consumed, or be absorbed through the skin when it makes contact with cosmetics or paper.

EFSA views the new TDI as temporary until long-term studies are completed. It has studied various health effects in setting the new lower rate. EFSA decided to conduct the reevaluation because of the large numbers of studies that have been done since it last visited the issue.

Dr. Trine Husoy, who chaired the BPA working group, said the panel agreed that high doses of BPA are likely to adversely affect kidney and liver function. It may also cause effects on the mammary glands of animals. Such damage, however, would occur only at levels hundreds of times higher than the TDI.

The last EFSA review was conducted in 2006, and the agency now knows that dietary exposure to BPA is four to 15 times lower than it was thought back then. With more and better data, ESFA is able to accurately judge exposure for all age groups.

EFSA’s role in the EU food safety system is to conduct scientific risk assessments that may be used by European Commission managers, European Parliament members, and Member States that are charged with regulating the safe use of BPA as a food-contact material.

FDA’s most recent assessment in 2014 found that BPA was safe at levels permitted in the U.S. (5 micrograms per day). It reached that conclusion after reviewing 300 studies on BPA conducted from 2009-2013.

A BPA scare two years ago in the U.S. led to a FDA ban on its use in baby bottles and sippy cups used by small children. Canada declared BPA a toxic in 2010 and banned it from children’s products.

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