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Mineral oils in foodstuffs and packaging materials – Summary

Mineral oils and mineral oil hydrocarbons migrate from packaging material (especially recycled cardboard) to foodstuffs. The origin of mineral oils in is printing ink, of the sort that is usually used with newsprint. Using our new GC-LC coupling method, we can detect even the tiniest quantitiies in the lower ppm range, and if required, determine the contamination source…

Mineral oils in foodstuffs and packaging materials – Summary

Background

Mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) are distillation products from mineral oil or coal tar. They contain straight and branched aliphatic, cycloaliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Polycyclin aromatic compounds and heterocycles can also be present. The range of MOHs spans volatile and easily degradable hydrocarbons right up to poorly soluble, low-volatility and persistent high molecular compounds of grease and oils.

For ecological reasons, cardboard packaging cartons are manufactured using a high proportion of recycled paper. Tests have shown that recycled cardboard can contain high proportions of mineral oils. The origin of mineral oils in is printing ink, of the sort that is usually used with newsprint. Mineral oils in printing inks and recycled cardboard can pass into packaged foodstuffs at high rates. These are shorter-chained mineral oil fractions with hydrocarbon values of <25 and a high proportion of aromatic compounds (10–25%). Measured values are the sum of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) that consist of open-chain paraffins and cyclical alkalines, as well as mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), of 1-5 aromatic rings. That being said, mineral oils of various structures can also enter foodstuffs in many other ways.

  • Contamination with ‘batching oil’ from jute bags (hazelnuts, rice)
  • Mineral mould oils in the case of baked goods
  • Paraffin oil for fining rice
  • Hydraulic oils: Dosing systems
  • Mineral oil in cooking oil (Ukrainian sunflower oil)
  • Production disasters (lubricating oil, engine oil, hydraulic oil)
  • Effects of environmental pollution (soot)
  • Paraffin as a dust binder
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