News 09.12.2021

Toxic mineral oil found in food products

  • Mineral oil in foods

Many food products sold in Europe are contaminated with dangerous aromatic mineral oils, reveals a lab test by foodwatch. The products need to be recalled immediately and the EU has to put in place a zero-tolerance rule! 

foodwatch published 152 products from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, carried out by two different accredited laboratories: one in eight food products tested are contaminated. Aromatic mineral oils, so called MOAH, are toxic contaminants suspected to be carcinogenic and genotoxic. The products tested positive have to be recalled immediately. Additionally, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, and the decision makers of the EU Member States have to protect all consumers by adopting a zero-tolerance rule for MOAH contamination in all food categories across the EU. 

The EU and the entire food industry have known about the dangers of MOAH in food for many years. It is scandalous that the EU, which always stresses the importance of consumer health, has still not eliminated this avoidable and unnecessary health hazard!
Matthias Wolfschmidt Strategy Director at foodwatch International

19 products are contaminated 

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) 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 were also tested positive on MOAH. One batch of Nutella, sold in Germany, was contaminated with 2.3 mg/kg MOAH, whilst in other batches MOAH was undetectable.

Zero-Tolerance rule for aromatic mineral oil

Mineral oils are found in many areas of the human environment. They have already been found - among others by foodwatch - in numerous foods such as rice, pasta, chocolate and edible oils, but can also be found in packaging, children's toys, animal feed and cosmetics. Sources of mineral oil contamination can be from the machines and procedures used during harvesting and processing of food, or also from food packaging.

Although the health hazards from mineral oil impurities in food have been known for years, there are still no legal limits. foodwatch demands safe limits for mineral oils in food - for the particularly critical aromatic mineral oils (MOAH) a zero tolerance policy must apply.