The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has lowered the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of phenol—a chemical used to make coatings, adhesives and inks in food contact materials—from 1.5 to 0.5 mg/kg bw/day. The action follows a request from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment asking EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) to reassess the TDI because the original value was “within the same dose range which was reported to be associated with some haematotoxic and immunotoxic effects in an oral study on phenol.” In its scientific opinion on the toxicological evaluation of phenol, EFSA stated that the chemical was last evaluated in 1984.

The derived TDI does not consider the hazard of possible oxidation products such as quinones and hydroquinones, which CEF suggested should be evaluated separately. The panel also concluded that the “European Commission should consider other routes of exposure, including flavorings, smoked food products, floor waxes, cosmetics and disinfectants when setting a restriction for phenols in food contact materials.”