Readers of MassTortDefense are accustomed to European regulatory approaches that are much stricter than in North America, under a co-called “precautionary” approach. So what does it say about the hysteria in the U.S. over BPA when the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concludes that there is no new evidence to suggest the tolerable daily intake (TDI) for bisphenol A needs to be changed? EFSA recently reconfirmed that current levels of exposure pose no significant threat to human health.
Bisphenol A is a chemical used as a monomer in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, in food contact materials used in the manufacture of some plastic bottles and food and drink can linings. EFSA had an expert panel perform a detailed and comprehensive review of recent scientific literature and studies on the toxicity of bisphenol A at low doses. The latest work carried out by EFSA scientists followed a request from the European Commission to: a) carry out a review of recent scientific literature on the toxicity of BPA to assess whether the TDI should be updated; b) assess a new study on possible neurodevelopmental effects (i.e. possible effects to the brain and central nervous system) of BPA in rats, known as the Stump study; and c) advise on the BPA risk assessment by Denmark’s DTU Food Institute.
The agency reaffirmed its positions stated over the last couple years, and concluded that it would maintain the current TDI of 0.05mg/kg/bodyweight. The scientists on the EFSA CEF Panel concluded they could not identify any new evidence which would lead them to revise the current Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA as set by EFSA in its 2006 opinion and re-confirmed in its 2008 opinion. (In 2006, EFSA set the TDI for BPA at 0.05 mg BPA/kg body weight (b.w.)/day. This is based on the No-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Level (NOAEL) of 5 mg/kg b.w./day that has been identified in multi-generation reproductive toxicity studies in rodents, where the critical effects were changes in body and organ weights in adult and offspring rats and liver effects in adult mice, respectively. In 2008, EFSA reaffirmed this TDI, concluding that age-dependent toxicokinetics differences of BPA in animals and humans would have no implication for the TDI.)
Moreover, the research pointed to by those out to ban BPA had “many shortcomings” and uncertain relevance to human health. In particular, the panel dismissed concerns over the alleged neurobehavioral toxicity of BPA attributed to the Stump study and a risk assessment by Denmark’s National Food Institute, finding the alleged link uncertain and pointing out a variety of flaws in the analysis of the Stump data after further evaluation from EFSA’s Assessment and Methodology group. The careful review of the scientific literature failed to provide any convincing evidence that BPA has any adverse effects “on aspects of behavior, such as learning and memory.”
EFSA’s conclusions, after intense scientific scrutiny, get little play in the mainstream press, but continue to reaffirm the safety of BPA in food contact applications.