In an article published on May 28, 2020, non-governmental organization (NGO) Food Watch announced the discovery of mineral oil hydrocarbons in baby formula products on the German market by government agencies. The Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Offices (CVUA) in the cities of Münster and Stuttgart released their test results to Food Watch in May 2020 following a formal request, however the NGO found public documentation showing the government agencies had been aware of the contaminations since December 2019 and not made them public.

The CUVA laboratory in Münster reported finding mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) in all 50 of the baby product samples examined and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) in 14 of the 50 samples. The laboratory in Stuttgart did not find MOAH in any of the 17 samples it tested, but it did detect MOSH in 12 of them. From all samples within these two sets of tests known to Food Watch, 92% were found to be contaminated with MOSH and 21% with MOAH. The samples tested included baby milk products branded by Nestlé, Novalac, Humana, and Rossmann. Currently no EU-wide limits on mineral oils have been set, and Food Watch is calling for such standards and for zero tolerance of MOAH based on the currently achievable analytical quantification limit of 0.5 mg/kg food.

Food Watch had previously published results from its own testing of mineral oil hydrocarbons in Nestlé baby milk products in October 2019 using testing guidelines released by the EU Joint Research Center (JRC) (FPF reported). In 2018, a scientist from Nestlé presented on the challenges of untargeted analysis of mineral oil hydrocarbons at the Food Packaging Forum’s workshop. Sources of mineral oil hydrocarbons in foods can include machines used during harvesting and processing steps as well as from food packaging.

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Food Watch (May 28, 2020). “German state laboratories find mineral oil in baby milk.”