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NGO watchdog finds mineral oils in leading European chocolate and crisp brands

A German NGO specialising in food safety issues has called on several top confectionary manufacturers to withdraw their products from sale after detecting contamination with mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAHs) and mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSHs).

Foodwatch Germany carried out its own laboratory tests on 15 sample chocolate and five crisp products sold in supermarkets. It discovered MOAH and MOSH contamination in these; including confectionary from well-known Eureopan brands Kinder, Lindt, and Rübezahl Schokoladen.

Concentrations of MOSH at 6.8mg/kg and MOAH at 1.2mg/kg were found in the Kinder test subjects; levels of MOSH at 5.3mg/kg and MOAH 1mg/kg for Rübezahl; and MOSH at 5mg/kg and MOAH at 0.7mg/kg in the Lindt products

Publishing its findings on 4 July, the NGO cited previous research from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) indicating that MOSHs and MOAHs are, respectively, mutagenic and possibly carcinogenic.

Foodwatch spokesperson John Heeg says: ‘The manufacturers are guilty of gross negligence.’ He goes on to call for stricter limits on MOSH migration and a full regulatory ban on MOAHs.

The source of the unverified contamination was not identified by the tests; but Foodwatch suggest migration from paper packaging – especially recycled board with residual printing inks – and jute bags used a secondary packaging are possible vectors.

In a response to the unwelcome publicity of 12 July, Kinder brand owner Ferrero says it ‘guarantees its products are safe for consumers [and] comply fully with the food safety requirements of all the countries in which they are marketed and often exceed those requirements.

‘The problem [of mineral oil traces] affects the packaging of virtually all foods: indeed, minimal traces of mineral oils occur everywhere in the environment. All Ferrero packaging fully complies with applicable legislation on food contact materials.’

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.