On January 16, 2017 the European Commission (EC) adopted Recommendation (EU) 2017/84 on the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. This measure follows a petition by the non-profit organization Foodwatch that called to act on mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in food (FPF reported).
The non-binding recommendation asks EU Member States (MS) to monitor MOHs in several types of food and food contact materials (FCMs) used to package that food. The food types to focus on include fats and oils, bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, grains, nuts, sausages, fish, canned fish, cocoa, chocolate, confectionery, ice, and desserts. Upon MOH detection in a particular product, further investigations should seek to determine the contamination source.
The MOH monitoring is to be performed in 2017 and 2018, and the monitoring data should be sent to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) by October 1, 2017 and by the same date in 2018; the last results should be provided by the end of February 2019.
According to an article published on January 19, 2017 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, several industry representatives, including the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) and the petroleum industry group Concawe, have expressed their support for this initiative. However, they have also commented that the undertaking represents a “very challenging task.” For its success, a sufficient number of MS should commit to this monitoring program. To ensure the quality and comparability of the monitoring results, reliable analytical methods and accurate sampling procedures should be adopted. Moreover, each stage of the supply chain should be considered, because “otherwise it would be impossible to distinguish between intentional and non-intentional uses.”
The EC plans to provide the MS with guidance on sampling and analytical methods, prepared by the EU Reference Laboratory on Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM). The Recommendation will also be discussed at the next meeting of the EC’s technical expert group for food contact materials that will take place on January 30, 2017 (FPF reported).
Chemical Watch (January 19, 2017). “EU Commission recommends monitoring of mineral residues in food.”
Foodwatch (January 23, 2017). “EU-Kommission bestätigt Krebsgefahr durch Mineralöle.” (in German)
Foodwatch (January 25, 2017). “Huiles minérales cancérogènes : la Commission pressée de ne rien faire.” (in French)
EC (2017). “Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/84 of 16 January 2017 on the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.” Official Journal of the European Union (published January 17, 2017).