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German authorities have reportedly asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide a risk assessment for 4-methylbenzophenone, a food packaging chemical similar to benzophenone and hydroxybenzophenone that both have a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.01 mg/kilogram of body weight. Officials alerted EFSA through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed after a customer identified the common photo-inhibitor in a chocolate crunch muesli product at levels approaching 798 µm/kilogram parts per billion (ppb). The European Commission has also requested a reevaluation of the TDI set for the two related chemicals. EFSA anticipates that it will publish its assessment of 4-methylbenzophenone by March 3, 2009, with an opinion on other food contact materials, enzymes, flavorings and processing aids expected by the end of May. See FoodProductionDaily.com, February 24, 2009.

U.S. and Danish researchers have published an article that discusses a study conducted on a subset of the Danish National Birth Cohort of some 100,000 children and their mothers to explore whether bloodstream levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), chemicals used in food packaging, may affect fertility. Chunyuan Fei, et al., “Maternal Levels of Perfluorinated Chemicals and Subfecundity,” Human Reproduction, January 28, 2009. Noting that these chemicals are also used in many other consumer products, “are persistent in the environment and have been detected in wildlife and humans around the world,” the researchers found that higher maternal PFOA and PFOS levels were associated with a longer time to pregnancy. They conclude that exposure to these chemicals “may explain some of the fertility differences seen among different populations in developed countries.”

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