Contaminants: EFSA opinion on mineral oil


EFSA has published its scientific opinion on the update of the risk assessment of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food.

Mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) are composed of saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH). They can enter food in many ways: through environmental contamination, use of lubricants for machinery, release agents, processing aids, food or feed additives and migration from food contact materials. MOSH accumulation is observed in various tissues, with species-specific differences, namely liver and spleen. The highest dietary exposure to MOSH was estimated for the young population, with lower bound–upper bound (LB–UB) means and 95th percentiles of 0.085–0.126 and 0.157–0.212 mg/kg bw per day, respectively. Considering a margin of exposure approach EFSA concluded that the present dietary exposure to MOSH does not raise concern for human health for all age classes. Genotoxicity and carcinogenicity are associated with MOAH with three or more aromatic rings. For this subfraction, a surrogate relevant reference point of 0.49 mg/kg bw per day, calculated from data on eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, was considered. The highest dietary exposure to MOAH was also in the young population, with LB–UB mean and 95th percentile estimations of 0.003–0.031 and 0.011–0.059 mg/kg bw per day, respectively. Based on two scenarios on three or more ring MOAH contents in the diet and lacking toxicological information on effects of 1 and 2 ring MOAH, a possible concern for human health was raised.

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