The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported on July 25 that its scientific experts have provisionally concluded that for all population groups, diet is the major source of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). EFSA added that consumers' exposure to BPA is considerably lower than the agency had estimated in 2006—about 30 times lower for infants, and approximately 11 times lower for adults.

BPA is a chemical compound used in food contact materials such as packaging (most commonly, in the lining of cans used for high-acidity foods), as well as thermal paper used in cash register tapes and other applications. EFSA noted that "scientists found dietary exposure to BPA to be the highest among children aged three to 10 (explainable by their higher food consumption on a body weight basis)," adding, "Canned food and non-canned meat and meat products were identified as major contributors to dietary BPA exposure for all age groups." After food, scientists identified thermal paper as the second most important source of BPA exposure for all population groups above three years of age.

EFSA's new "draft assessment" constitutes its first review of exposure to BPA since 2006 and the first to cover both dietary and non-dietary sources (including thermal paper and environmental sources such as air and dust). Officials said the Authority's full risk assessment of consumer exposure to BPA is a two-stage process: Currently, EFSA is seeking feedback on this draft assessment; later, the agency will publicly consult on the second part of its draft opinion, focusing on its assessment of the potential human health risks of BPA.

"A considerable refinement of exposure estimates compared to 2006" resulted from an influx of new data in response to an EFSA call for data, according to the Authority. For infants and toddlers (aged 6 months-3 years) average exposure from the diet is estimated to amount to 375 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per day (ng/kg bw/day) whereas for the population above 18 years of age (including women of child-bearing age) the figure is up to 132 ng/kg bw/day. By comparison, these estimates are less than 1% of the current Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for BPA (0.05 milligrams/kg bw/day) established by EFSA in 2006.

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