Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the lining of some food and beverage packaging to protect food from contamination and extend shelf life. It’s also used in non-food products.
Small amounts of BPA can migrate into food and beverages from containers.
Some studies have raised potential concerns that BPA exposure may cause health problems. However the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that there is no health or safety issue at the levels people are exposed to.
Food safety authorities around the world have studied BPA and its reported effects.
In September 2018, the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) released the final report of a comprehensive two-year rodent study examining the potential health effects of BPA. This study was designed to look at the effects of BPA following chronic and/or early life exposure in two different groups of rats. The findings of this study are consistent with previous conclusions that there are no public health and safety concerns at the levels of BPA people are exposed to in food.
The NTP study is part of a larger project known as the CLARITY-BPA program. CLARITY-BPA also includes studies by university researchers on the effects of BPA on a range of endpoints not typically included in the standard toxicity tests required by regulators. A report combining the results of the NTP study with the academic research findings is expected to be published in 2019. Read more about the CLARITY-BPA program.
In January 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report on the agency's comprehensive re-evaluation of BPA exposure and toxicity. EFSA's re-evaluation concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels. Read more about EFSA's report
EFSA initiated a re-evaluation of BPA in September 2018, which will include consideration of the US NTP study as well as other relevant research. EFSA's review is expected to be completed in 2020. Read more about EFSA's re-evaluation of of BPA.
In November 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the results of its most recent review of BPA, stating that it considered BPA to be safe at the levels people are exposed to. FDA experts specialising in toxicology, analytical chemistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, and other fields reviewed more than 300 studies as part of the review. Read the summary of the US FDA’s current perspective on BPA.
Health Canada released an updated assessment of BPA in 2012 and also concluded that there were no safety issues at the levels people are exposed to.
Is there a Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA?
The tolerable daily intake (or TDI) is an internationally established safe level for chemicals like BPA. It’s a conservative estimate of a safe level of BPA which applies to the whole population and estimates the amount of BPA in food that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk.
In other words it’s the amount that can be safely consumed per day, every day.
Extremely large amounts of foods and beverages would need to be consumed to reach the TDI for BPA. For example, a nine month old baby weighing 9 kg would have to eat more than 1 kg of canned baby custard containing BPA every day to reach the TDI, assuming that the custard contained the highest level of BPA found (420 parts per billion) in a survey by CHOICE.
Surveys of BPA in Australian foods show that dietary exposures of Australian consumers are low and within acceptable safe limits. For more information see the 24th Australian Total Diet Study.