Bisphenol A

How can BPA get into our diet?
Small amounts of BPA can migrate from polycarbonate plastics or epoxy resin linings into foods and beverages. BPA can also migrate into foods if the plastic or resin is damaged or breaks down.
 
Why is there concern about BPA?
BPA is one of a number of chemicals that may have the potential to interact with hormone systems in the body (a so-called ’endocrine disrupter’). It has been known since the 1930s that BPA can mimic the female sex hormone, oestrogen. The effects on fertility and reproduction and the endocrine (hormonal) system have been subject to much scientific debate, linked to reports of low-dose effects of BPA in rodents.
 
Why did EFSA carry out a new review of BPA in 2006?
Some 200 scientific papers were published on BPA since the previous review by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food in 2002. Therefore there was a need to review the data, including these new studies. The review was carried out by EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC). Further studies, including a 2-generation study in mice available in 2006, provided EFSA’s experts with additional data missing in the past. The Panel reassessed the 2002 opinion based on more evidence of the significant differences between humans and rodents, as well as stronger scientific evidence that reduced the uncertainties around the level of risk that were considered in 2002.

What did the Panel conclude in 2006?
In its   scientific opinion on bisphenol A   the AFC Panel concluded that the setting of a full rather than a temporary Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) is now appropriate, following an extensive review of all available data. People’s dietary exposure to BPA, including that of infants and children, is well below the new TDI.

Are there any particular concerns for infants and children?
In its 2006 evaluation EFSA’s AFC Panel gave special attention to infants and children as they belong to the groups with the highest potential dietary exposure to BPA relative to the body weight. The Panel’s estimates of intake were based on conservative (‘worst case’) estimations. Potential intakes for infants and children are estimated to be well below the TDI. In April 2008 the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded in a draft brief that there was some concern for neural and behavioural effects in foetuses, infants and children at current levels of exposure. Additionally, reports from Health Canada and Environment Canada raised concerns over possible harmful effects on newborns and infants, and in particular, on the elimination of the substance from the bodies of newborns and infants. Canada began a 60-day public comment period on 19 April on whether to ban the import, sale and advertising of baby bottles which contain bisphenol A.
  
What is EFSA doing to take account of these recent concerns?
The European Commission asked EFSA to further assess the differences between infants and adults in the elimination of bisphenol A from the body, taking into account the most recent information and data available. EFSA provided further advice on this aspect in its opinion   opinion published in July 2008.  

How much can be consumed without harm?
A 3-month-old bottle-fed baby that weighs around 6 kg would need to consume more than 4 times the usual number of bottles of baby formula a day before it would reach the TDI.

What is a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI)?
The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance, expressed on a body weight basis that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable risk.

Why was the temporary TDI replaced by a full TDI?
A temporary TDI is allocated if there are uncertainties in the data that may be resolved by further studies and it is known that significant new data will be available in the near future. In the case of BPA, the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) set a temporary TDI in 2002 by applying an additional uncertainty factor 5 times higher than the 100-fold factor that is usually used. This was done because of the lack of complete data then as regards reproduction and developmental studies. After the results of the new 2-generation study on mice became available in October 2006, together with other studies published over the last 4 years, the information gap was filled and the AFC Panel was able to establish a full TDI of 0.05 milligrams/kg body weight, using the usual 100-fold uncertainty factor.