EFSA calls for public input on risk assessment of Tetrabromobisphenol A in food

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation on the draft scientific opinion regarding the updated risk assessment of tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and its derivatives in food.    

TBBPA, a commonly used brominated flame retardant (BFR) found in various consumer products, has raised concerns due to the presence of related chemical compounds in the environment, food, and human bodies.    

In response to these concerns, the European Commission (EC) has tasked EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) with updating its 2010-2012 risk assessments for different groups of BFRs, including TBBPA and its derivatives, hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), brominated phenols, and novel and emerging BFRs. Consequently, EFSA's CONTAM Panel has started to conduct separate risk assessments for each BFR class. The Panel is also considering using a mixture approach that encompasses the various BFR families that would be applied in a subsequent opinion.    

The draft scientific opinion on TBBPA incorporates new occurrence data in food and biological samples submitted to EFSA after its previous opinion, as well as new scientific information essential for hazard identification and characterization.    

Notably, studies have highlighted a potential adverse effect of reduced social interaction in male mice exposed to TBBPA, leading to the establishment of a lowest-observed adverse effect level (LOAEL) of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight (mg/kg bw) per day as the reference point for risk characterization. Based on this, a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for TBBPA has been set at 0.7 micrograms (μg)/kg bw per day.    

To evaluate the dietary exposure to TBBPA among the European population, the CONTAM Panel identified fish and seafood, meat and meat products, and milk and dairy products as the most important contributors. It is reassuring to note that all exposure estimates were below the TDI, including those for breastfed and formula-fed infants.    

Despite the inherent uncertainties in the assessment, the CONTAM Panel has reached a confident conclusion, stating with 90–95 percent certainty that the current dietary exposure to TBBPA does not pose any health concerns for the population groups considered. However, the panel emphasized the need for additional data to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment for TBBPA derivatives.    

To ensure a comprehensive evaluation, EFSA will gather input and feedback from industry representatives, experts, consumer organizations, and other interested parties. The consultation period will remain open until May 7th.  
The outcome of this public consultation process will contribute to EFSA's efforts to provide reliable and up-to-date information regarding the safety of TBBPA and its derivatives in the food supply, ultimately safeguarding public health.