At the 50th EUROTOX conference to be held September 7-10, 2014 in Edinburgh, UK new research findings will be presented concerning the hormonal activity of mineral oil. The research carried out by scientists from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) looked into the estrogenic potential of mineral oil by means of different in vitro bioassays. The scientists separated mineral oil into two fractions, the mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and the mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH). Estrogenic responses for the MOAH fraction were found in several different assays.

Mineral oil is a common contaminant of recycled paperboard. Migration from food contact materials into food has been found for various different types of dry foods. Especially foods with a high specific surface area (flour, rice, cereals, etc.) have been found to adsorb mineral oil components in the ppm (mg mineral oil per kg food) range after storage. To date the toxicity of mineral oil has not clearly been established. Solutions to prevent or reduce mineral oil migration are (1) using a barrier inner liner bag (e.g. made of aluminum or specially designed plastic with barrier properties) or (2) using only virgin fiber for food contact paperboard.

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Tarnow, P. et al. (2014) “Estrogenic activity of aromatic compounds present in mineral oil used in printing inks.Toxicology Letters, 229(Supplement):S64-S65 (online 17 August 2014).