The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a risk assessment of bisphenol A (BPA), used in food packaging.

The agency will mainly focus on the BPA exposure of vulnerable groups such as infants, children and pregnant women.

Baby bottles made of BPA-containing polycarbonate plastics have previously been banned.

EFSA said that the new assessment will complement earlier scientific advice to European Commission, and that it will review all the available data and scientific studies on dietary exposure published since its first assessment in 2006.

The agency’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) will further assess the possible relevance of some BPA-related effects observed in rodents at low dose levels to human health.

New findings from ongoing studies will also be considered as they become available during 2012, and ESFA will also consider the contribution of non-dietary sources to the overall exposure to BPA.

At its February 2012 plenary meeting, the CEF panel introduced a plan to re-evaluate the human risks associated with exposure to BPA through the diet by May 2013.

The initiative was taken in view of the authority’s ongoing monitoring of scientific research on BPA and the panel’s further consideration of new studies.

Two multidisciplinary working groups of experts have been set up to focus on the hazard characterisation of BPA concerning its toxicological effects on the human body.

As part of its comprehensive risk assessment, EFSA will also cooperate with scientific experts in the EU Member States and the US on assessment reports and on large scale studies.