At its May meeting, comments were sought from Committee on Toxicity members on items destined for discussion by the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), as part of its review of complementary feeding of infants and young children.

The COT was asked to provide advice on risks arising from the maternal and infant diet that are related to the toxicity of chemicals in food or to the development of food allergy (or atopic disease in general). A draft statement (TOX/2012/14) describes the COT approach and identifies a number of chemicals which require further examination in order to evaluate their potential risks to infants. These are:

  • aluminium
  • soy phytoestrogens
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other brominated chemicals
  • some specific persistent organic pollutants (α- and β-hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane γ-hexachlorocyclohexane, chlordecone, pentachlorobenzene, perfluoro octane sulfonic acid salts and perfluoro octane sulfonic acid, technical endosulfan and its related isomers)
  • foods and food components such as kiwi, antioxidants, vitamin D, Ω-3 fatty acids
  • vitamin A
  • lead

Due to low estimated intake by infants, no further work is recommended for:

  • phthalates
  • dioxins
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • bisphenol A (unless an ongoing EFSA evaluation indicates otherwise)
  • methyl mercury (pending results of an ongoing EFSA evaluation)
  • “legacy pesticides” (pesticides whose use has been banned but which remain in the environment as persistent organic pollutants)

In relation to the above, two background discussion papers on lead (TOX/2012/15 ) and on vitamin A (TOX/2012/16) review the potential risks from high levels of these chemicals in infant nutrition via breast milk, infant formulae and the diet. COT members were asked to comment on the information provided and on whether estimates of intake indicate any cause for concern.

UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment.
First draft over-arching statement on the chemicals and food allergens of relevance to complementary feeding in 0-12 month old infant. Draft discussion paper TOX/2012/14, April 2012
Review of potential risks from high levels of lead in infant nutrition. Draft discussion paper TOX/2012/15, April 2012
Review of potential risks from high levels of vitamin A in infant nutrition. Draft discussion paper TOX/2012/16, April 2012

Another item on the agenda was the recently published guidance on selected default values to be used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the absence of actual measured data. A COT draft discussion paper (TOX/2012/17) considers body weights, food intake, factors for converting concentrations in rodent feed or water to dose, uncertainty factors and rounding of figures in derivations of health-based guidance values. Committee members were asked to consider the extent to which these default values should be adopted in COT risk assessments.

UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment.
Default values to be used in risk assessment in the absence of actual measured data. TOX/2012/17, April 2012

Four papers illustrating potential roles of toxicogenomics in risk assessment were presented to the COT for consideration (and possible inclusion in a COT statement). A US EPA response on this subject was also presented for comment.

UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment.
Update on Toxicogenomics. TOX/2012/18, April 2012

The above item was taken from the June 2012 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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