On March 8, 2017 the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) issued an opinion on “Migration of mineral oil compounds into food from recycled paper and cardboard packaging.” ANSES prepared the opinion upon formal request by the French Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF). The agency was asked to propose a definition of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH), consisting of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), that migrate from food contact materials (FCMs). Further, ANSES was asked to assess the risks associated with MOH in food, establish toxicity benchmarks if possible, or identify priority topics and shortcomings in the risk assessment of MOH.
ANSES recommends to initially focus on the validation of a specific analytical method to determine the composition of mineral oil mixtures. Also, additional toxicological studies on MOH mixtures relevant to consumer exposure should be carried out. Additional data are also needed on food contamination with MOH from recycled paper and board packaging. Due to the genotoxic and mutagenic nature of certain MOAH, it should be of priority to reduce contamination of food with these substances. Generally, consumer exposure to MOH should be limited by acting on the main sources of contamination. Therefore, the agency recommends using MOAH-free printing inks, glues, additives, and processing aids in the manufacture of paper and board packaging.
Regarding the high content of MOH in paper and board packaging made of recycled fibers, ANSES recommends using MOAH-free printing inks, glues, additives, and processing aids in the printing sector (e.g. magazines, newspapers) because “printed media entering the recycling chain have been identified as the main sources of mineral oils in recycled paper and cardboard food packaging.” Also, research should be conducted to “identify the technological levers that can be used to reduce the contamination of recycled fibers.” Lastly, ANSES recommends using functional barriers to limit migration of MOH from paper and board packaging into food.
ANSES (May 9, 2017). “ANSES issues recommendations to reduce foodstuff contamination by mineral oils.”
Foodwatch (May 10, 2017). “Contamination des aliments par les huiles minérales: l’ANSES confirme leur danger pour la santé.” (in French)
Foodwatch (May 12, 2017). “Franse voedselveiligheidsautoriteit: Maatregelen tegen besmetting voedsel met gevaarlijke minerale oliën nú nodig.” (in Dutch)
ANSES (March 8, 2017). “Opinion of the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety on the migration of mineral oil compounds into food from recycled paper and cardboard packaging.” (pdf)