The European Food Safety Authority’s AFC Panel has issued a further scientific opinion report on the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). MassTortDefense has posted on BPA here and here. The goal of the assessment was to focus on the chemicals’ elimination from the body and how that might relate to the risk assessment of BPA in humans. The work took into account the most recent data since the EFSA’s 2006 opinion report, which concluded that exposure to BPA is well below the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI). A TDI is a regulatory standard for dietary exposure calculated to ensure that no adverse effects occur.
The European Food Safety Authority is an independent European agency funded by the EU. The EFSA is governed by an independent Management Board whose members are appointed to act in the public interest and do not represent any government, industry, or private sector. EFSA’s role is to assess and communicate on all risks associated with the food chain. Since EFSA’s advice serves to inform the policies and decisions of risk managers, a large part of EFSA’s work is undertaken in response to specific requests for scientific advice from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and EU Member States. The AFC Panel focus is on food additives, flavorings, processing aids and materials in contact with food.
The key conclusion of the Panel on BPA is that after exposure, the human body rapidly metabolizes and eliminates the substance. This represents an important metabolic difference compared with rats, and suggests certain animal models are not all that useful. That is, people metabolize and excrete BPA far more quickly than rodents. This evidence further limits the relevance of low-dose effects of BPA reported in some rodent studies used for human risk assessment.
The Panel further concluded that the exposure of a human in utero to BPA would be negligible because the mother rapidly metabolizes and eliminates BPA from her body. The scientists also concluded that newborns are similarly able to metabolize and eliminate BPA at doses below 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day. This implies that newborns could effectively clear BPA at levels far in excess of the TDI of 0.05 mg/kg bw set by the Panel, and therefore its 2006 risk assessment remains valid. The TDI provides a sufficient margin of safety for the protection of the consumer, including fetuses and newborns, EFSA said.
EFSA took note of the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s draft brief on BPA, and of the Canadian government’s recent Draft Screening Assessment on BPA, which took into account findings from low-dose animal studies, notably with respect to neuro-developmental toxicity. It pointed out that these studies were limited in rigor, consistency and biological plausibility.
The new European report is consistent with the statements of the FDA that a large body of evidence indicates that currently marketed products containing BPA, such as baby bottles and food containers, are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from these products are well below those that may cause health effects.