Press Release 19.01.2024

foodwatch at EU stakeholder forum on Mineral Oil limits in food: There can be no exceptions or delays!

At the online stakeholder forum on Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons (MOHs) in food, organised by DG Sante, on Thursday, foodwatch has called for no exceptions, no exemptions, and no delays in setting legally binding limits of Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH) contamination in food. The EU is now presenting its proposal for inclusion of MOAH in the contaminant's regulation. The process should be finalised in 2024 and ready for implementation from 2025 on.

“There must be no exceptions made for certain foods. Member States already agreed on a temporary statement in 2022 for all foods – it must not be more complicated than that. If a food product cannot comply with the maximum levels of mineral oil contamination, then it must be removed from the market until it can,” said Suzy Sumner, head of foodwatch Brussels office.

At the event, some representatives of food industry argued that their products should not be included as they cannot guarantee non-contamination. Suzy Sumner pointed out that: “We have been testing these foods for nine years. MOAH is detectable and avoidable. It is a contaminant that comes with a health risk for consumers and should not be in our food. Companies know when there is a problem somewhere along the supply chain and yet some have not taken the necessary action. This shows that trusting industry to do the right thing without legislation in place is not an avenue to pursue. It is failing. We need a rapid finalisation and implementation of these maximum limits into law. Then Member States will establish control systems, checks and sanctions which will ensure we have foods that are free from this dangerous contaminant.”

It is the foodwatch tests of baby milk powder in 2019 that provoked an immediate reaction from the Commission then and gave the impetus to this process. One in two baby milk products tested were contaminated with potentially mutagenic and carcinogenic MOAH. foodwatch later did another set of tests on a wide selection of products in 2021, in which 133 out of 152 were free from detectable contamination. Proving with its tests that MOAH can be detected at minimum levels, foodwatch has continued to push for legislation on Mineral Oil contamination, as so far, there is no binding regulation in place.

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