Press Release 20.02.2020

Mineral oil in baby milk: foodwatch demands publication of all official test results and consistent protection of public health

  • Mineral oil in foods

Brussels/Berlin, 20 February 2020. Experts from the European Commission will meet with the Member States on Friday 21 February to discuss the follow-up to the handling of baby milk contamination with mineral oils which are hazardous to health. According to information from foodwatch, French authorities have announced their intention to support the publication of all test results available from Member State authorities. foodwatch continues to call on the European Commission to comply with its legal obligation to protect Europe’s consumers from mineral oils in food products. These mineral oils are potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic and harmful to the hormonal system.

In October last year, foodwatch published laboratory tests on contamination of infant formula by aromatic mineral oil hydrocarbons found in products from Germany, France and the Netherlands. The EU Commission immediately placed a notification to all European authorities in the European rapid alert system RASFF, commissioned a short expert opinion from the European Food Safety Authority EFSA and confirmed in expert circles the detection methods used by foodwatch. However, information to the public, product recalls or other measures to protect consumers' health have so far failed to materialise, even though the results of foodwatch have been confirmed in numerous tests by government laboratories in the Member States.

"Instead of protecting European citizens through appropriate information and product recalls, the Commission and Member States have left it up to Nestlé and Danone to lull parents and carers into a false sense of security based on their inadequate test results. The Commission and Member States are allowing Nestlé and Danone to continue their business as usual", said Matthias Wolfschmidt, International Campaign Director of foodwatch. "It speaks volumes about the level of public health consumer protection in the EU that a citizen-funded NGO has to push the quality of laboratory analysis methods and force food giants like Nestlé and Danone to finally eliminate the health hazards from aromatic mineral oils in their products that have been known for many years. When will the authorities finally take responsibility for this task?" continued Wolfschmidt.

foodwatch expects the Commission and the Member States to inform the public in detail and without further delays about the test results, which have since been carried out in government laboratories, and to withdraw contaminated products from the market. There must be zero tolerance for aromatic mineral oils in all foods in the EU. The EU must firmly reject misleading information from Nestlé and Danone based on false test results that are not scientifically valid.