The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has begun work on a new bisphenol A (BPA) risk assessment - focussing on the low dose effects of the packaging chemical.
EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) has been tasked with evaluating the relevance low dose BPA-related effects observed in rodents and the relevance to human health.
The current European Union (EU) BPA Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) is 0.05mg/kg. EFSA has updated its scientific advice on BPA several times since and reconfirmed the TDI.
In addition to the assessment, EFSA has set a date for a meeting of international experts to debate recent scientific evidence of low dose BPA effects and the challenges this poses for risk assessment.
For the first time, EFSA has taken low dose BPA effects into account. When asked whether the re-evaluation represents an evolution of its stance on low dose effects, an EFSA spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com that it considers all data that becomes available.
“EFSA constantly monitors scientific research,” said an EFSA spokesperson. “In the context of its re-evaluation of BPA, it will consider all available data and studies, including the results of on-going studies as they become available.”
“Some of these also cover the so-called ‘low dose-hypothesis’. According to this hypothesis, some substances may exert ‘low dose effects’ and this would challenge the key assumption in the current risk assessment process for most chemicals that the individual response of an organism to a chemical increases proportionally to the exposure.”
It is generally accepted that with BPA, which is commonly used in the manufacture of epoxy linings in food and beverage containers, there is a threshold dose below which there are no adverse effects.
However, growing evidence to support the low dose hypothesis turns this on its head.
“According to the low-dose hypothesis, effects may happen at low dose, whereas the fundamental concept in toxicology and risk assessment is that the individual response of an organism to a chemical increases proportionally to the exposure (dose),” the spokesperson said.
EFSA declined to comment on whether the research could lead to a EU ban on BPA in food contact materials.
“EFSA provides scientific advice; it does not deal with risk management issues."
The re-evaluation will see EFSA liaise with scientific experts from the US and EU Member States and is convening a meeting of international experts to debate recent scientific evidence of low dose effects in toxicology.
The meeting is set to take place in Parma on 14 and 15 June 2012 and will enable participants to make recommendations on the hypothesis.
“The international Colloquium will be attended by risk assessors and researchers working in the area of low dose effects in toxicology,” added the spokesperson.
“The objective is to convene leading scientists from Europe and beyond.”