Denmark censures EFSA over bisphenol A delay; upholds ban in meantime

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Risk

Denmark has criticised a second EFSA delay in delivering its verdict on bisphenol A (BPA) as “unsatisfactory” and “weird”, saying it would wait for the full opinion to be published before even considering lifting its ban on the chemical.

Last week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced it would not be making a decision on BPA as promised because its 21-member panel of experts needed more time to review 800 scientific studies on the substance. The agency, which was originally scheduled to publish its verdict by the end of May, said it now expected to do this in early September.

The food safety watchdog, however, revealed it had rejected the conclusions of the so-called Stump study – which was cited by the Danish Government as the basis for its ban on BPA in food contact materials for children aged 3 and under. The EFSA panel declared the study does not provide evidence of the chemical affecting neurobehavioural behaviour and dismissed the possibility of a low dose effect on learning ability as expressed in the Danish DTU Food Institute risk assessment.

Unsatisfactory and unfair

But Bente Fabech, a key scientific adviser to the Danish Government on the substance, criticised the failure of the food safety watchdog to meet its own deadlines.

“To say you have a huge workload is no excuse and if you have a deadline then you should finish the work as promised,”​ she told “To say the delay is because they need to assess 800 studies is weird because the previous EFSA opinion is not that old. I don’t think all these studies are new so they have probably been through some of them before.”

Given that EFSA had been charged with delivering the risk assessment and that counties such as Denmark had requested the re-evaluation, the latest move by the EFSA was “unsatisfactory, not fair and a strange process”,​ she added.

Waiting for opinion

Fabech confirmed the Danish ban, introduced in March, would remain in place and the country would only consider lifting it once EFSA had issued its official opinion. The expert said she could not confirm that Denmark would follow EFSA’s lead and was baffled over why the agency had given a “glimpse”​ of its thinking on the substance without publishing a full opinion.

“The announcement made last Friday means that no change has actually been made but perhaps it is not ideal to have to wait for a further two or three months for a decision,”​ she said. “When the opinion is ready we will re-evaluate the situation but I do not know what the outcome will be. We will wait for the content of the final decision and the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries will make a decision afterwards.”

Related topics Food safety & quality

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