Update of the risk assessment of mineral oils in food

The European Commission is considering whether to establish maximum levels for mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and has instructed EFSA to update the scientific opinion on MOH.

The latest scientific opinion on mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) goes back to 2012. MOH substances, and in particular the two main classes, mineral oil-saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), can have serious impact on human health. 

In 2020, the European Commission (EC) mandated the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to update the scientific opinions. It has been a difficult task, as the MOH group contains a great number of chemical substances and data are often insufficient. 

EFSA published their Update of the risk assessment of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food in September.

Some of the main outcomes were that:

  • It is likely to very likely (66-95% certain) that the present dietary exposure to MOSH does not raise concerns for human health. Nevertheless, it is important to keep studying the possible long-term effects on human health.
  • It is extremely likely (99-100% certain) for toddlers and likely (more than 66% certain) for other age groups that present dietary exposure to 3- or more aromatic ring MOAH, which are associated with DNA damage and potentially causing cancer, raises a concern for human health.
  • Dietary exposure to 1-2 ring MOAH lacks reliable toxicity data, which might raise a concern.

EFSA determined that more data and knowledge about concentrations and sources in food are needed before the EC can establish maximum levels for MOH in food items.

For more information about MOH and other food substances, please connect with:

Helle Buchardt Boyd     
Tel +45 4516 9097