The food safety watchdog said it will outline its draft opinion on the chemical at the meeting with national specialists that is due to take place by early April. The venue has yet to be confirmed, an agency spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Specialists will be able to discuss EFSA’s on-going work on the substance and put forward any relevant national research “in support of the finalisation of EFSA's opinion”, said the body. Members of EFSA’s Advisory Forum have been asked to nominate these experts to take part in the assembly alongside members of the CEF Panel's working group on BPA.
EFSA said its assessment of BPA is currently being prepared by the food contacts panel. It is drawing up the opinion, which is expected to be adopted by May 2010, after a request from the European Commission last October to evaluate the relevance of a new study on possible neuro-developmental effects of BPA. Officials in Brussels also asked the food safety body to consider whether it was necessary to update the existing Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI).
In 2006, EFSA published its original opinion establishing a full TDI of 0.05 mg BPA/kg bw. This was re-affirmed in a second opinion adopted in July 2008.
BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate baby bottles and the expoxy linings of food cans. Its continued inclusion in food contact materials has come under intense scrutiny in recent years- particularly in the United States. Scores of studies have linked the chemical to a raft of serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and birth disorders. The chemical industry has said scientific evidence shows BPA poses no threat to human health.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland in foetuses and young children” as it outlined steps to minimise exposure to the chemical. It stressed, however, that it did not believe the substance was unsafe for use in food packaging but said it would be carrying out more research into the matter.
Following this, EFSA told FoodProductionDaily.com that it would be contacting the FDA to ask for the research it had studied in reaching its updated opinion. That process is still taking place, a spokesman added yesterday.