Trade Resources Industry Views BPA Has a Safety Tick

BPA Has a Safety Tick

In America, the FDA’s current position is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. In 2014, FDA experts from across the agency, specialising in toxicology, analytical chemistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, and other fields, completed a four year review of more than 300 scientific studies, and made no alterations to its position on BPA. The FDA does not support the use of BPA-based polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and sippy cups (July 2012) or BPA-based epoxy resins as coatings in packaging for infant formula (July 2013).

The Australian Government announced a voluntary phase out of BPA use in polycarbonate baby bottles in 2010.

Australia has been watching the EFSA’s recent comprehensive re-evaluation of bisphenol A (BPA). This was undertaken by the EFSA Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids.

Dr Trine Husøy, a member of the EFSA expert panel and chair of the BPA working group, stated, “The Panel decided to re-evaluate the safety of BPA because of the publication of a huge number of new research studies in recent years.”

On January 2015, the EFSA concluded that, “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels. Exposure from the diet or from a combination of sources (diet, dust, cosmetics and thermal paper) is considerably under the safe level (the “tolerable daily intake” or TDI)”.

New data and refined methodologies did, however, cause EFSA’s experts to considerably reduce the safe level of BPA from 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (µg/kg of bw/day) to 4 µg/kg of bw/day, the highest estimates for dietary exposure and for exposure from a combination of sources (called “aggregated exposure” in EFSA’s opinion) are three to five times lower than the new TDI.

And the EFSA has added, “Uncertainties surrounding potential health effects of BPA on the mammary gland, reproductive, metabolic, neurobehavioural and immune systems have been quantified and factored in to the calculation of the TDI. In addition, the TDI is temporary pending the outcome of a long-term study in rats, which will help to reduce these uncertainties.”

The re-evaluation was undertaken in part because residues of BPA can migrate into food and beverages and be ingested by consumers, and BPA from other sources including thermal paper, cosmetics and dust can be absorbed through the skin and by inhalation.

The CEF Panel concluded that high doses of BPA (hundreds of times above the TDI) are likely to adversely affect the kidney and liver. It may also cause effects on the mammary gland in animals.

Studies indicating BPA as the cause of other health effects were less conclusive, Dr Husøy stated. “Effects on the reproductive, nervous, immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, as well as in the development of cancer are not considered likely at present but they could not be excluded on the available evidence. So, they add to the overall uncertainty about BPA-related hazards and therefore have been considered in the assessment.”

The Panel also assessed the possibility that BPA results in unexpected responses to different doses, e.g. adverse effects that are only induced by low BPA doses (known as ‘non-monotonic dose-response’ or NMDR relationships) and found no evidence to support this possibility.

“As a result, we now know that dietary exposure is four to fifteen times lower than previously estimated by EFSA, depending on the age group,” Dr Husøy noted.

But, “there is a lack of supporting data on dermal exposure – for example, how much BPA the body absorbs through skin by touching thermal paper – which really increases the uncertainty of estimates from thermal paper and cosmetics,” she warned. 

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BPA Gets a Safety Tick