On April 22, 2015 the advocacy group for chemical safety CHEM Trust announced it had received a response letter from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding their misleading communication of the results of the risk assessment of bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7). The risk assessment concluded that there was a “low health concern” for consumers from aggregate exposure to BPA. However, the press release, the abstract of the Scientific Opinion and other communication materials stated that there was “no health risk” (FPF reported). The letter from EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url, argues that it was legitimate to make such a change in order to make these materials “accessible” to non-specialist audiences. CHEM Trust agrees that often there is a need for “the use of accessible language and often simplification” in information for the general public and media. However, whether the change of text from “low concern” to “no concern” can actually be described as simplification is questionable. CHEM Trust argues that the general public is able to understand the difference between “no” and “low”. It is good to see that EFSA corrected the abstract of their BPA risk assessment to point out that the experts concluded that there was a “low health concern” associated with the real-world exposure to BPA, says Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust. However, he stresses that “it is surprising to see that EFSA still considers it acceptable to state “no health concern” in their communication materials, in the claimed name of simplification”. CHEM Trust is concerned that EFSA is not taking a balanced view of this issue. Rather than being open and transparent about their scientific assessment, the agency focuses too much on reassuring the public, according to CHEM Trust.
CHEM Trust (April 22, 2015). “Bernhard Url’s Letter commenting on EFSA’s reporting of the bisphenol A risk assessment.” (pdf)