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Food Safety Focus (121st Issue, August 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

Mineral Oils in Chocolates

Recently, the finding of mineral oils in some popular chocolate products by a German consumer group has caused public concern. Mineral oil mixtures consist of saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and potentially cancer-causing aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH).

Mineral oils are widely found in the environment. Sources of mineral oils in food are recycled papers, cardboards and printing inks used in packaging, processing aids, lubricants, etc. Foods that have high-fat contents or large surface areas are prone to contamination when come into contact with materials containing mineral oils. In fact, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) of Germany evaluated health risks caused by mineral oils from chocolates in 2012. The BfR considered that the contribution of MOAH from chocolates to the background levels (i.e. exposure from overall diet) was low but the contamination with mineral oils from food packaging should be minimised by technological means as far as possible.