EUROPE – The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Committee has concluded that no retention of copper is expected to occur with an intake of up to 5 mg per day and established an acceptable daily intake (safe level) of 0.07 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for the adult population.

EFSA had earlier given room for public consultations which they used to collect constructive input on the establishment of an ADI for copper, within the context of the 2021 EFSA Statement and other relevant EFSA Guidance.

All living things, including humans, require copper as a micronutrient. Diets high or low in copper can have negative health effects.

In addition to being naturally present in many foods, it also enters the food chain when used as a nutrient in fortified foods and nutritional supplements, feed additives, organic and conventional pesticides, and food additives.

Over time, excessive copper retention in the body may be hazardous to people, especially to the liver.

In this Scientific Opinion, the conflicting existing HBGVs for copper were resolved using the EFSA 2021 harmonized approach for developing health-based guiding values (HBGVs) for substances that are regulated products as well as nutrients.

The 0.07 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for the adult population is a reduction from the previous 0.15 mg/kg.

Short-term toxicity manifestation is prevented by carefully controlled homeostasis, while the emergence of chronic copper toxicity is reliant on copper homeostasis and tissue retention.

As a follow-up, EFSA’s nutritionists will decide what amounts are appropriate for younger age groups.

A refined dietary exposure assessment was performed, assessing contribution from dietary and non‐dietary sources.

“For the first time with this substance, our experts estimated exposure to copper from all dietary and non-dietary sources. 

“Naturally occurring background levels of copper in food and food ingredients and long-term use of copper utensils and copper pipes are significant contributors to intake. However, the contribution of pesticides, food, and feed additives, or fertilizers is negligible,” EFSA noted.

Background copper levels are a significant source of copper. The contribution of copper from its use as a plant protection product (PPP), food and feed additives, or fertilizers is negligible. The use of copper in fertilizers or PPPs contributes to copper accumulation in soil.

Infant formula and follow-on formula are important contributors to dietary exposure to copper in infants and toddlers. However, due to kids’ increased nutrient needs for growth, detrimental consequences from copper exposure are not anticipated.

In a prior assessment, experts from the EFSA addressed copper deficiency and appropriate intakes for all age groups.

Copper deficiency leads to weak and brittle bones, loss of balance and coordination, and increased risk of infection.

In 2015, the Authority also reviewed the existing daily thresholds for copper in the diet. Adequate Intakes (AIs) were defined based on mean observed intakes in several European Union (EU) countries, given that there was no evidence of overt copper deficiency in the European population.

Data from balance studies were used as supportive evidence.

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