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Food Safety Focus (148th Issue, November 2018) – Food Incident Highlight

Glycidyl Esters in Food is an Emerging Food Safety Issue

In recent years, overseas studies revealed that glycidyl esters (GE) were found in foods containing refined vegetable fats and oils, such as margarine, bakery and pastry products, deep-fried products and various snack products as well as infant formula and follow-up formula. GE are formed during the deodorisation step in the refining of vegetable oils. After ingestion, GE are broken down in the human body to release glycidol which is probably carcinogenic according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The intake of GE should be kept as low as reasonably achievable. The Codex is now developing a Code of Practice which includes measures applicable to agricultural practices, oil milling and refining processes, source and use of the refined oils in food products. In early 2018, the European Commission set maximum levels of GE in some specified foods including vegetable fats and oils, infant formula and follow-up formula. The trade should take note and source fats/oils and food products with lower GE levels where possible. The Centre for Food Safety will continue monitoring the international development and local situation.