On September 17, 2020, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced the publication of the final version of its latest scientific opinion on the risk to human health from the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food. The opinion sets a group tolerable weekly intake (TWI) limit of 4.4 ng/kg body weight for four PFAS substances found currently to “contribute most to the levels observed in human serum.” These include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; CAS 335-67-1), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA; CAS 375-95-1), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS; CAS 355-46-4), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFOS; CAS 1763-23-1). The agency’s previous opinion from 2018 set separate TWIs for PFOS and PFOA (FPF reported), however the agency says it has now re-evaluated these values considering more recent scientific knowledge and using the agency’s recent ‘MixTox’ guidance for assessing combined exposure to multiple chemicals (FPF reported).
The decreased response of the immune system to vaccination was used as the critical human health effect in determining the new TWI value. This final opinion was developed following a two-month public consultation on a draft version of the opinion published in February 2020 (FPF reported). EFSA explains that “food can become contaminated [with PFAS] through contaminated soil and water used to grow the food, through the concentration of these substances in animals via feed and water, through food packaging containing PFAS, or processing equipment that contains PFAS.”
EFSA (September 17, 2020). “PFAS in food: EFSA assesses risks and sets tolerable intake.”
Chemical Watch (September 17, 2020). “Efsa sets group safety threshold for four PFASs.”
EFSA (September 17, 2020). “Risk to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances in food.”