- France ordered a recall of Knorr products, however in Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands products contaminated with toxic aromatic mineral oil (MOAH) are still on the shelves.
- To protect consumers, foodwatch cleared the shelves of Unilever’s “Knorr” stock cubes in several European supermarkets.
- foodwatch: EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF Committee) for Novel Food and Toxicological Safety on February 28th must take measures to protect all European consumers.
Amsterdam/Berlin/Brussels/Paris/Vienna, February 23, 2022: In a publicity-raising action the international consumer organisation foodwatch has cleared the shelves of Unilever’s “Knorr” stock cubes in several European supermarkets to protect consumers from dangerous mineral oils. foodwatch accused Unilever of continuing to sell the products even though laboratory tests have shown a contamination with so-called aromatic mineral oils (MOAH), which are potentially carcinogenic and genotoxic. The consumer organisation urged EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF Committee) for Novel Food and Toxicological Safety to take immediate action on its next meeting on the 28th February 2022. In case of an indisputable quantified presence of MOAH, Member States have to make sure that producers withdraw and recall these products from the market, on the basis of Article 14 of the General Food Law (Regulation (EC) 178/2002), demanded foodwatch.
“Food giant Unilever still claims that its products, highly contaminated with mineral oils suspected of causing cancer, are safe for health. It is high time that all governments and food authorities across Europe show Unilever the red card and force it to comply with European food law. It is scandalous that Unilever puts itself above the law”, said Matthias Wolfschmidt, Strategy Director at foodwatch International.
At the end of 2021 foodwatch published test results demonstrating once more the contamination by mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOAH) in food products purchased in five European countries. Unilever's Knorr stock cubes were identified as highly contaminated with MOAH in several different batches in the five countries. Yet until today the contaminated food products are still on the shelves across Europe and no adequate action was taken by the competent authorities in the Member States nor producers to protect the consumers from the toxic substance.
According to foodwatch research, French, Belgian and Luxemburg authorities meanwhile started to take action and officially recalled in the last weeks some of the contaminated products: Knorr products in France, Lea Nature in Belgium and a Delhaize product in Belgium and Luxemburg.
Referring to article 14 of the General Food Law (EC 178/2002) on food safety requirements, which states that “food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe,” foodwatch underlines that it is the duty of political authorities (article 17,1) to make sure producers comply with the legal obligations (article 17,2) to protect consumers from health hazards.
Given the facts, foodwatch has set up a petition and is calling on the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and leaders of EU Member States to adopt a zero-tolerance rule for all food categories prohibiting any detectable level of MOAH in foods: www.foodwatch.org/mineraloil
152 products tested
It is already the third time, that foodwatch has proven, through laboratory tests, that products are contaminated with MOAH. However many products remain on the shelves in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and probably many more European countries. A total of 19 products (12.5 percent of those tested) were found to contain mineral oil residues. Contamination levels ranged from 0.63 mg per kilo in one product to 82 mg/kg in the other. Unilever's Knorr stock cubes for example were identified as highly contaminated with MOAH in several different batches in the five countries. Several other products including chocolate, spreads and muesli were also tested positive on MOAH.
- foodwatch petition: www.foodwatch.org/mineraloil