The committees - the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), and the Food Advisory Committee (FAC) - have concluded that although the findings do not indicate any immediate health risk, it would be prudent for action to be taken to reduce ESBO levels in baby foods packaged in glass jars. The JFSSG accepts this advice, and is today telling industry to continue with its action to reduce ESBO levels in baby foods packaged in glass jars. The survey found ESBO at up to 105 milligrams per kilogram in 66 out of 137 samples.
The findings of the two committees, the full results of the JFSSG survey, and the comments of companies on results for samples of their brands in the survey, are publicly available in Food Surveillance Information Sheet No 186 on the Internet, at: http.//www.maff.gov.uk/food/infsheet/index.htm.
The COT's advice states: "The committee agreed that the intake of ESBO from this source by the majority of infants in Great Britain was unlikely to exceed the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI). However, it was recognised that there is a possibility of consumption such as to exceed the TDI if, for example, an infant were always to eat the same product containing a high level of ESBO.
"The TDI for ESBO is based on chronic animal studies which showed adverse effects at 1,000 milligrams per kilogram bodyweight per day, but no effects at intakes of 100 mg/kg bodyweight per day; the TDI was derived using a 100-fold safety factor applied to the intake of 100 mg/kg bodyweight per day. The committee agreed that possible slight excursions above the TDI are not of concern to health, but represent an undesirable erosion of the safety margin. The committee concluded that, since there was no evidence to suggest a consistent decline in ESBO levels between the first and second phases of the study, and given that there are other sources of ESBO in the diet, it would be prudent that action should be taken to reduce the levels of ESBO in these products in order to restore the safety margin incorporated into the TDI."
The FAC said that they had considered the report of the survey, companies' comments on the results for samples of their products, and the comments by the COT. The FAC said that it agreed with the conclusion of the COT that it would be prudent that action should be taken to reduce ESBO levels in these products. The FAC said it welcomed "the action already being taken by industry with this objective in mind. The FAC notes that the design of the packaging, and the use of ESBO in it, have provided confidence that the products are safe. Action by industry must continue, and be done in ways that continue to ensure the highest level of safety of the products."