The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has established a new Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for copper, and has determined that, at present, the EU population’s combined exposure to copper from all sources does not pose a health concern.
Copper is an essential micronutrient that is naturally present in many foods, and it can also enter the food chain through its regulated use in organic and conventional pesticides, feed and food additives, and as an added nutrient in fortified foods and supplements. Both the deficiency of and excessive exposure to copper can cause adverse health effects.
Chronic, excessive copper retention in the body could be toxic to humans, and can have damaging effects on the liver. However, EFSA determined that no retention of copper is expected to occur with an intake less than 5 milligrams per day, and established an ADI for copper of 0.07 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight.
Additionally, EFSA estimated exposure to copper from all dietary and non-dietary sources, finding that naturally occurring levels of copper in food and food ingredients, as well as long-term use of copper utensils and copper pipes, are significant contributors to intake. On the other hand, the contribution of pesticides, food and feed additives, or fertilizers is negligible. Notably, formula is an important contributors to dietary exposure to copper in infants and toddlers.
Overall, EFSA determined that the EU population’s dietary exposure to total copper does not exceed health‐based guidance values in adolescents, adults, the elderly, and the very elderly. Adverse effects from exposure to copper in children are not expected due to children’s higher nutrient requirements for growth.