On December 12, 2017, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published a document (in German) addressing frequently asked questions and providing answers regarding the migration of mineral oil components from (recycled) cardboard food packaging into food.

The document explains that mainly mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) can be found in food. Mostly dry foods such as flour, semolina, rice, breadcrumbs, or breakfast cereal are affected by contamination.

Further, the BfR informs about the health risks associated with exposure to MOSH and MOAH and about consumer exposure levels. The BfR notes that currently there are no legal limit levels for mineral oil components in food. However, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is working on a mineral oil ordinance to restrict migration of MOAH (FPF reported). Also, the European Commission published a recommendation on the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food in January 2017 (FPF reported) and is currently preparing an EU measure for printed food contact materials (FPF reported). To minimize the migration of mineral oil components from carboard packaging into food, the BfR recommends using virgin fiber cardboard, mineral-oil-free printing inks, and functional barriers.

On December 7-8, 2017, the BfR held a forum on the health risks of mineral oils in food and cosmetics in Berlin, Germany (FPF reported).

Read more

BfR (December 12, 2017). “Fragen und Antworten zu Mineralölbestandteilen in Lebensmitteln.(pdf; in German)