No risk in short term from
4-methylbenzophenone, says EFSA
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/No-risk-in-short-term-from-4-methylbenzophenone-says-EFSA
By Rory Harrington, 12-Jun-2009
The short-term consumption of
breakfast cereals contaminated with previously reported levels of the
4-methylbenzophenone (4MBP) poses no risk to human health, the European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said.
The European food safety watchdog delivered its verdict yesterday on
the chemical, which is used in printing inks for food packaging, but said
further study may be necessary if the substance continued to be employed.
spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com: “We were not aware that 4MBP was
being widely used in food packaging before it was flagged up in March. If
companies continue to use it, then a more in-depth risk assessment may be
The body carried out the risk assessment after the spotlight fell on
the chemical following a spate of contamination incidents earlier this
year. In February, the German authorities notified the European Commission
(EC) of the migration of 4MBP from packaging into certain cereal products
at a concentration of 798 micrograms/kg. The Belgian Authorities also
provided data later the same month, reporting concentrations of the
chemical in cereals up to 3729 μg/kg.
The EC’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health
(SCoFCAH) subsequently set a maximum level for the presence of 4MBP at
0.6mg/kg of food.
EFSA’s CEF panel, which examines food contact materials, reached its
latest conclusion after re-assessing the toxicological data on the similar
substance, benzophenone. The panel was also tasked with evaluating whether
the existing Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for benzophenone and
hydroxybenzophenone could also be applied to 4MBP. It also examined the
case for re-assessing the TDI for benzophenone and hydroxybenzophenone.
An EFSA statement said: “The Panel considered the safety threshold
for benzophenone which was used as the basis of EFSA’s urgent advice to the
Commission in March to be very cautious, as it was based upon adaptive
(i.e. reversible) changes reported in experimental animals as a result of
their exposure to benzophenone rather than adverse effects as such.
However, the Panel considered that this approach was reasonable given the
lack of data available and the short deadline.”
The CEP members decided it was necessary to set a new TDI for
benzophenone of 0.03mg per kilogram of bodyweight. This was based on a
higher threshold which the panel considered to represent the intake level
beyond which benzophenone could be harmful. Hydroxybenzophenone has been
excluded from this TDI due to a lack of data, added the experts.