Mineral oil hydrocarbons in food

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Article
Mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH), alkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, analysis, sources of MOH, human dietary exposure, toxicokinetics, toxicity, risk assessment, margin of exposure (MOE), acceptable daily intake (ADI), food contact materials
First published in the EFSA Journal
6. Juni 2012
Adopted
3. Mai 2012
Last Updated
28. August 2013. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Type
Scientific Opinion
Abstract

Consumers are exposed to a range of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) via food.  Mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) consist of linear and branched alkanes, and alkyl-substituted cyclo-alkanes, whilst mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) include mainly alkyl-substituted polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Products, commonly specified according to their physico-chemical properties, may differ in chemical composition depending on the oil source. Technical grade MOH contain 15 - 35 % MOAH, which is minimised in food grade MOSH (white oils). Major sources of MOH in food are food packaging and additives, processing aids, and lubricants. Estimated MOSH exposure ranged from 0.03 to 0.3 mg/kg b.w. per day, with higher exposure in children. Specific production practices of bread and grains may provide additional MOSH exposure. Except for white oils, exposure to MOAH is about 20 % of that of MOSH. Absorption of alkanes with carbon number above C35 is negligible. Branched and cyclic alkanes are less efficiently oxidised than n-alkanes. MOSH from C16 to C35 may accumulate and cause microgranulomas in several tissues including lymph nodes, spleen and liver. Hepatic microgranulomas associated with inflammation in Fischer 344 rats were considered the critical effect. The no-observed-adverse-effect level for induction of liver microgranulomas by the most potent MOSH, 19 mg/kg b.w. per day, was used as a Reference Point for calculating margins of exposure (MOEs) for background MOSH exposure. MOEs ranged from 59 to 680. Hence, background exposure to MOSH via food in Europe was considered of potential concern. Foodborne MOAH with three or more, non- or simple-alkylated, aromatic rings may be mutagenic and carcinogenic, and therefore of potential concern. Revision of the existing acceptable daily intake for some food grade MOSH is warranted on the basis of new toxicological information.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Jan Alexander, Diane Benford, Alan Raymond Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Alessandro Di Domenico, Daniel Doerge, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Metka Filipič, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Peter Fürst, Thierry Guérin, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Antonio Mutti, Martin Rose, Josef Rudolf Schlatter and Rolaf van Leeuwen.
Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
Contact
contam [at] efsa.europa.eu
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2704
EFSA Journal 2012;10(6):2704 [185 pp.].
Question Number
On request from
European Commission
Print on demand
Number of Pages
185