In an article published on October 13, 2016 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) informs about its evaluation of the recent scientific evidence on the adverse immune system effects caused by bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7), requested by the Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (FPF reported). The evaluation mainly concerned the two studies published in 2014 by Sandrine Menard and colleagues from the Research Centre in Food Toxicology in Toulouse, France, which were highlighted in the BPA report released by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in March 2016 (FPF reported). These two studies, performed in rats, suggest that perinatal exposure to BPA (i.e. before and just after birth) can result in food intolerance and reduced resistance to intestinal parasitic infection.

To evaluate the studies, EFSA has set up a working group of international experts (FPF reported). The experts have now concluded that the human health relevance of these studies’ findings cannot be assessed due to several limitations in the studies’ design. A detailed statement on this matter was adopted in September 2016 and published on October 13, 2016 in the EFSA Journal.

In an article published on October 13, 2016 in response to EFSA’s appraisal, RIVM re-emphasized that “potential effect of BPA on the immune system requires further attention,” and noted that differing conclusions on the human relevance reached by RIVM and EFSA’s experts could be due to the fact that RIVM did not have access to the original study data at the time of its evaluation.

The trade association PlasticsEurope applauded EFSA’s latest evaluation of BPA immunotoxicity studies, as discussed by Joe Whitworth in an article published on October 13, 2016 in Beverage Daily. Jasmin Bird of the Polycarbonate/Bisphenol A Group noted that “given the clear results of today’s opinion by EFSA, the European Union can now move forward swiftly with the new draft regulation on BPA based on the EFSA opinion of 2015.” Last week, a large majority of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called for a ban on BPA in all food contact materials (FPF reported). This ban was deemed “clearly disproportionate” by PlasticsEurope. The BPA Coalition noted that the MEP’s call “shows members of the European Parliament have decided they know more about the impact of FCMs on human health than EFSA” and commented that this “undermines . . . legislative efforts.”

Contrary to the industry’s urge, EFSA confirmed its plans to re-evaluate BPA in 2017 after the release of the results from the studies currently being conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. According to an article published on October 14, 2016 on the Australian Food Processing website, Vittorio Silano, the head of EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF), has said that “additional immunological studies such as those by Menard et al. would be useful contributions [to the 2017 re-evaluation of BPA] if the limitations [identified by EFSA’s experts] are addressed.”

Read more

EFSA (October 13, 2016). “Bisphenol A: new immune system evidence useful but limited.

EFSA (2016). “A statement on the developmental immunotoxicity of bisphenol A (BPA): answer to the question from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.EFSA Journal 14(10): 4580.

RIVM (October 13, 2016). “EFSA agrees with RIVM that potential effect of BPA on the immune system required further attention.

Joe Whitworth (October 13, 2016). “EFSA identifies ‘key limitations’ in BPA studies and stands by TDI.Beverage Daily

FoodProcessing Staff (October 14, 2016). “Beating BPA confusion.

Plastics News Europe (October 18, 2016). “European Food Safety Authority maintains Bisphenol A safety guidance.

Leigh Stringer (October 20, 2016). “Immunotox evidence ‘too limited’ to prompt BPA TDI change.Chemical Watch

Plasteurope (October 27, 2016). “Plastics and health.


Menard, S., et al. (2014). “Food intolerance at adulthood after perinatal exposure to the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A.The FASEB Journal 28(11): 4893-4900.

Menard, S., et al. (2014). “Perinatal exposure to a low dose of bisphenol A impaired systemic cellular immune response and predisposes young rats to intestinal parasitic infection.PLoS One 9(11): e112752.