Europe to take a second look at the effects of BPA on health
In early 2015 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) posed no risk to consumers’ health.
On April 26th 2016 the EFSA announced that they would review the effects of BPA on the immune system in 2017-2018, to take into account recent studies which had pointed out the risks if this chemical substance for children and fetuses. Despite calls to prohibit this substance, which is thought to be an endocrine disruptor, and has been banned for use in feeding bottles in Europe since 2011, the EFSA stated that exposure to BPA did not present “any risk for consumer health”. This decision led to France being out of step, just as they were introducing a blanket ban on all food recipients containing this antioxidant and plasticizer.
However, the EFSA announced on April 26th that they were setting up a “workgroup consisting of international experts, to evaluate new scientific elements regarding the potential effects of BPA on the immune system”. The new data come from a report published by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health, which analyzed two studies on prenatal and perinatal effects of BPS on the immune system. The report “recommends that research on alternatives to BPA be promoted and that consumers be advised to reduce their exposure,” according to the EFSA. At the request of the Netherlands, the European agency has decided to “specifically examine the toxicity of BPA for the immune system in the light of these new findings.” “The studies had not yet been published” when the EFSA issued its previous evaluation of the risks of BPA, they stated.
At the beginning of 2015, the European agency recommended dividing the safety threshold for human exposure to this substance by twelve. Nevertheless, real human exposure to BPA, which can notably be found in till receipts is “three to five times lower” than the new threshold, and is regarded as “without danger”, they said. The agency had identified “doubts about BPA’s potential impact on the health of the mammary gland as well as the reproductive, metabolic neuro-behavioural and immune systems.” These effects, in addition to a possible implication in the development of cancer, “are regarded as unlikely, but cannot be rejected,” they added. France took a critical view, with the French ecology minister, Segolène Royal, questioning “the influence of lobbies” on the publication by the EFSA, an agency that was founded in 2002 after a series of food scares.