Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in food: EFSA draft opinion open to consultation

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a draft scientific opinion indicating that exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in food may pose health risks to people of all ages.    

PBDEs are a type of man-made chemical used as flame retardants in a range of products, including plastics, textiles, and electrical/electronic equipment. These chemicals can enter the air, water, soil, food, and animal feed, and mainly occur in food of animal origin, such as meat, fish, and milk.  
According to research on experimental animals reviewed in the draft opinion, PBDEs may have negative impacts on reproduction and the nervous system.    

The EFSA's CONTAM Panel recommended that monitoring of PBDEs in food should continue, with a particular focus on infant formula and on how these chemicals are passed from mothers to infants during pregnancy and breastfeeding.    

EFSA previously evaluated the risks of individual PBDEs in 2011 and identified concerns mainly for children and adolescents. The new draft opinion considers evidence gathered since then and assesses the risks of combined exposure to some of the most commonly found PBDEs.  
This is the second in a series of six EFSA opinions examining the threats posed by flame retardant chemicals. The first, published in 2021, updated the risk assessment of hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) in food.    

The public consultation on the draft opinion will run for six weeks. Interested parties are invited to submit comments by July 20, 2023.