18 Mar 11 Food companies changing packaging on mineral oil migration risk
British cereal companies, Weetabix, Kellogg’s and Jordans have all taken steps to change to packaging that does not contain mineral oils, according a report from the BBC. The possible health threat from mineral oils – that come from inks and chemicals used in newspaper production – surfaced last year in the wake of the publication of a Swiss study.
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) said steps were already being taken to address the issue and that the industry regarded it seriously. The paper and board sectors were investigating ways to phase out materials containing mineral oils, CEPI managing director Teresa Presas told FoodProductionDaily.com
An opinion from the European Food Safety Authority on the matter is also due out later this year.
Recent Swiss study
The possible health threat from mineral oils – that come from inks and chemicals used in newspaper production – surfaced last year in the wake of the publication of a Swiss study.
The research by Dr Koni Grob at a government-run food safety laboratory in Zurich found that three quarters of 119 food products from a German supermarket contained mineral oils. Of these, most exceeded the European Union safe limit of 0.6mg per kilogram by more than 10 times. But products left on the shelves for longer periods could eventually exceed the limits by up to 100 times, he estimated. Mineral oils were also found to penetrate some inner linings.
Long term exposure to mineral oils has been linked to the chronic inflammation of various internal organs and cancer but consumers who eat balanced diets are not believed to be at risk, said Grob.
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was “not aware of any firm evidence to suggest that there are food safety risks related to mineral oils in recycled food packaging”. It said the research was interesting but incomplete.
“Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the food they produce is safe, and some have chosen to review their use of recycled packaging,” added the FSA spokesman. “The agency continues to review evidence in this area and will act to protect consumers if the evidence shows it is necessary to do so.”