Ne tirez pas sur le messager – à propos des commentaires de l’ANSES sur le projet d’avis de l’EFSA sur le BPA

Il y a quelques semaines, l’EFSA (Autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments) publiait un projet d’évaluation des risques associés au Bisphénol A, en invitant toutes les parties prenantes à commenter cet avis avant finalisation.

A ce jour, l’EFSA a reçu plus de 250 commentaires de sources diverses ; mais c’est un seul de ces commentaires, celui publié par l’ANSES ce 8 avril (avec près d’un mois de retard sur l’échéance du 13 mars fixée par l’EFSA), qui fait les titres de la presse et du web.

Il y a tout juste un an, l’ANSES avait elle-même publié un avis détaillé sur le BPA ; dans notre commentaire de l’époque, nous signalions le contraste, voire les contradictions flagrantes entre cet avis d’avril 2013 et les conclusions répétées de nombreuses autorités réglementaires à travers le monde quant à la sécurité du BPA.

Le nouvel avis de l’ANSES a été pris en « auto-saisine » en réaction au projet d’avis de l’EFSA, lequel conclut (une fois de plus) que le BPA ne pose pas de risques pour les consommateurs aux niveaux actuels d’exposition.

Au-delà de la discussion autour du BPA, la polémique entretenue par l’ANSES vis-à-vis de l’EFSA me semble révélatrice d’une remise en cause fondamentale du processus de réglementation européenne en matière de produits chimiques, selon laquelle les études toxicologiques, et en partic…

Explaining ECHA’s RAC opinion on BPA

On 12 March, ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) adopted an opinion proposing to reclassify BPA from “suspected” to “presumed human reproductive toxicant” under the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixture (CLP). Now, you may be a scientist or well-informed and have read and understood that adoption of the opinion does not change the status of BPA as a safe product; however, this is likely the exception and not the rule. As a result, for those who are science-curious and other laymen, you may be left with the question, what does this actually mean?

  • Exposure to BPA through food contact applications is and remains safe

BPA has and remains compliant with all regulation when it comes to food contact materials and plastics used as food contact materials. This is because human exposure to BPA is very, very low and remains far below safety levels set by the authorities – even when scaled downwards as suggested by EFSA in its recent draft opinion on BPA. EFSA thoroughly assessed BPA, reviewing over 450 (!) studies relating to potential health risks, and concluded that “risk to human health is low because consumer exposure to BPA is below the temporary TDI”.

You may also be interested to know that actually many substances are used and approved for food contact applications despite the fact they carry a hazard labelling; by the time it becomes a food contact material, any ‘haz…

Media Run Down

It’s been a busy two months for scientific studies, with new research and discussions on BPA generating quite a bit of media attention. As I recently expressed (here, here and here), we take research and studies on BPA seriously. Therefore, we empathise with alleged concerns and are ready to engage in open dialogue.

There has been plenty of reporting on recent scientific findings in relation to BPA in the past two months. However, such reporting often does not provide the overall perspective for research results, and the studies that make media headlines are not necessarily those that are most relevant to our understanding of the actual human health risk of BPA.

We have compiled an overview of the most prominent trends of reporting on BPA-related scientific studies for the past two months, and with this we aim to offer some perspective on the current lines of debate and the key issues that are being discussed.

In a nutshell, it comes down to the importance of dose and measuring. Despite the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirming this January in its draft opinion on BPA risk assessment that consumer exposure to BPA remains extremely low and is well below the temporary Total Daily Intake (t-TDI) that it suggests to set, numerous studies continued to neglect this fact and the same is valid for related media coverage:

  • Two studies marked the past two months with claims of a link between BPA exposure and prostat

After the river, why the Cincinnati study leaves everyone at a loss

You may know Cincinnati for its famous Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood or for lending its name to the classic Steve McQueen film The Cincinnati Kid. This week, however, Cincinnati trended online media for a different reason: the Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) released a study linking BPA to prostate cancer.

According to CCC researchers, the study reached two main conclusions:

1)       Levels of BPA in urine could be a marker for prostate cancer;

2)       Low-dose exposure can result in cellular changes in prostate cells.

Like McQueen after the river has been dealt, this study leaves us at a loss. Yes, BPA can be found in urine – we intake it orally after which it is very rapidly metabolised by the body; it is degraded in the gut and expelled in the urine. The fact that it can be found in urine, however, does not mean that it is proof of cause for cancer; this is a very misleading conclusion as urine-based studies have consistently confirmed that BPA is safely excreted after being converted by the liver into a kind of sugar (we’ve spoken about incorrect linkage of BPA to cancer thrice before; find it here, here and here).

Similarly, without repeating ourselves (read our latest blog), low-dose BPA exposure has never been proven to result in adverse health effects, including neither benign nor malignant cellular changes. Studies which reach such conclusions each time fail to be validated or verified – …

The down-low on the low-dose theory

You may have seen it already on Twitter, but the University of Missouri published the latest Vom Saal study as part of his witch hunt against BPA. The study, released last week, alleges that low-dose BPA exposure leads to adverse health effects in rhesus monkeys, ranging from cardiovascular and respiratory effects to the most grievous claim of foetal abnormalities. Leaving the ethical questions of testing on primates aside, the question of low-dose exposure is one that has been comprehensively and carefully tried and tested by independent and government agencies across the world. The conclusion reached, each and every time? The low-dose theory remains just that, a theory.

To give you the down-low on low-dose, the gist of the argument is that low-doses of BPA may have more harmful effects than higher exposure levels. Many studies that claim to identify low-dose effects from BPA, however, fail to be validated or verified and are performed under questionable conditions. As a result, when the research has been subject to repeat studies, results were not replicable. In no case have the results of any so called ‘low-dose studies’ been reproduced.

Given the naysayers and the serious nature of alleged health effects, however, the low-dose theory was again recently tested by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the largest-scale toxicity study ever conducted on BPA. The result? Again, when exposed to …