The European Food Safety Authority says that controversial plastics compound bisphenol A (BPA) is safe at the levels found in food packaging. This announcement comes after the agency finished reassessing its previous similar opinion on BPA in light of widespread debate about the chemical’s potential health effects.
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, both of which are used in a wide range of common consumer food and beverage packaging. When exposed to heat from sources such as dishwashers, the chemical is said to leach from the object and can potentially be ingested.
The degree to which this leaching occurs and the harm it causes humans has been fiercely debated in recent years. In response to this controversy, an EFSA panel recently reviewed data and concluded that their previously established safe limit for BPA "provides a sufficient margin of safety for the protection of the consumer, including fetuses and newborns."
The EFSA panel, which focused on how BPA is handled in the body, notes significant differences between humans and rodents, such as the fact that people metabolize and excrete BPA far more quickly than rodents. Because of these differences, people at all life stages are not at risk from exposure to low levels of BPA, according to the EFSA. As stated by the panel, this body of evidence further limits the relevance of low-dose effects of BPA reported in some rodent studies.
The American Chemistry Council notes that the new EFSA findings are consistent with other recent bisphenol A evaluations, including those conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and the European Union.
Despite these agencies’ conclusion that BPA is safe at typical levels, there nonetheless remains a large body of dissenting viewpoints throughout the scientific community.
The full report from the EFSA panel is available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu.