October 27, 2015
Author: Greta Stieger

Mineral oils in food

Foodwatch study shows contamination of dry foods packaged in paper or board with mineral oils; online petition launched to call for EU-wide introduction of functional barriers, limit levels in food

On October 27, 2015 the non-profit organization Foodwatch launched an email petition to take action against mineral oils in food. Foodwatch had commissioned laboratory testing of 120 dry food products from Germany, France and the Netherlands packaged in paper or board and with a long shelf-life (e.g. rice, pasta, corn flakes). Contamination with mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) was measured. MOAH are suspected mutagens and carcinogens, as well as endocrine disruptors; MOSH accumulate in the body and can cause dysfunctions. 83% of tested products contained MOSH and 43% contained MOAH. Suspected sources of MOSH and MOAH contamination are primary food packaging – in particular packaging made from recycled materials – as well as secondary packaging. In its email petition directed to the EU Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Foodwatch asks for 1) a mandatory requirement of functional barriers in (recycled) paper and board food packaging to prevent migration of MOSH and MOAH from the packaging into food and 2) specific limit values for MOSH and MOAH in food to reduce contamination not only from food packaging but also from food production and processing steps.

In 2012, the German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) published a report on migration of chemicals of concern from recycled material paper and board packaging into food and concluded that the introduction of functional barriers will be necessary. In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) published a Scientific Opinion on Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons in Food and concluded that exposure to MOSH and MOAH via food is of potential concern and that the acceptable daily intake for some MOSH should be revised (FPF reported).

Read more

Foodwatch (October 27, 2015). “Verpackungen im Test: Mineralöl in Reis, Nudeln & Co.(in German)

Foodwatch (October 27, 2015). “Gefährliches Mineralöl raus aus Lebensmitteln!(in German)

Foodwatch (October 2015). “Mineralöle In Lebensmitteln – Ergebnisse des foodwatch-Tests.(pdf; in German)

Foodwatch (October 2015). “Gift aus der Verpackung – Mineralöl und andere Chemikalien in Lebensmitteln.(pdf; in German)

BMEL (2012). “Ausmaß der Migration unerwünschter Stoffe aus Verpackungsmaterialien aus Altpapier in Lebensmittel.(pdf; in German)

CONTAM (August 28, 2013). “Scientific Opinion on mineral oil hydrocarbons in food.(pdf)

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