EFSA lowers phenol TDI

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA's CEF panel on phenol TDI
EFSA's CEF panel on phenol TDI

Related tags Food contact materials European union Food

The tolerable daily intake (TDI) for phenol has been cut to 0.5 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight (bw) per day from 1.5mg/kg bw/day, according to a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific opinion.

The previous value was within the same range of that which was reported to be associated with some haematotoxic and immunotoxic effects in an oral study on phenol, detailed the opinion.

EFSA’s panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) was asked by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) to re-evaluate the TDI based on new toxicological studies.    

The basis of the request was the publication of a European Union risk assessment report (EU-RAR) on phenol in 2006.

Food contact exposure

They roughly estimated that exposure to phenol from food contact materials is likely to be in the range of 0.3mg to 0.6mg/person/day.

The panel did not assess the hazards related to the possible oxidation products of phenol, e.g. quinones/hydroquinones.

Exposure may also occur via sources other than food contact materials, such as flavourings, smoked foods, floor waxes and disinfectants.

The commission may wish to take note of all these sources of exposure if setting a restriction for phenol in food contact materials, added the panel.

Phenol use

Phenol is used in the manufacture of phenolic resins used in coatings, adhesives and inks in food contact materials and the substance and its esters are also used as food flavourings.

In the European Union, the tolerable daily intake (TDI) for phenol was set to 1.5mg/kg bw/day by the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) in 1984.

No specific migration limit has been set for phenol so the allowable migration in food is at the generic specific level of 60mg/kg overall.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the US EPA and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) have determined that phenol is not classifiable as a human carcinogen (US EPA, 2002; IARC, 2004; NTP, 2005).

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