EFSA open consultation on updated advice on ADI for copper

31 May 2022

Article: 56/2109

On 24 May 2022, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opened a public consultation, looking for comments on their opinion that the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for copper from all sources in food be reduced from 0.15mg per kg of body weight to 0.07 mg per kg of body weight based on an updated evaluation of the scientific evidence. The consultation will remain open until 1 August 2022. 

Copper is an essential micronutrient for all living beings including humans, with both too much or too little copper in the diet potentially leading to health problems. Copper is naturally present in many foods and also enters the food chain through its use in organic and conventional pesticides, feed and food additives, and as a nutrient in fortified foods and food supplements. 

EFSA’s Scientific Committee was asked to review the ADI for copper used in the various sectors across their work in line with the 2021 approach for setting health-based guidance values, such as an ADI, for substances which are both nutrients and regulated products. The new ADI is derived from the retention of copper in the liver by adults. 

In addition to reviewing the acceptable intake, EFSA scientists have assessed consumers’ exposure to total copper from all sources in the diet for the first time. In the general population, exposure does not exceed this ADI, but due to some uncertainties this may be underestimated for some subpopulations of regular consumers of foods with higher copper content. 

Intakes for younger age groups exceed the new ADI, but the scientists concluded this would not pose a lifetime risk for copper toxicity and therefore is not considered a health concern. Young children need more copper for development and use it at a higher rate than adults, therefore copper is less likely to be retained in a child’s liver. 

Once finalised, the new ADI will be applicable in relation to pesticides, feed additives and food additives, and the EFSA’s tolerable upper intake level for copper as a micronutrient will be updated. 

Source: EFSA, 24 May 2022