Determination and assessment of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in food products

EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, is expected to publish, later this year, an updated toxicological risk assessment on mineral oil hydrocarbons in food. To inform food producers and food retailers in advance of this planned publication, our experts for food analysis provide an overview of the current legal situation. WESSLING is your partner for safe food. Therefore, our experts have a broad service portfolio regarding mineral oil hydrocarbons in food, both in analysis and consulting.

WESSLING – Precise laboratory analysis

Even before 2010 residues of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in food has been one of the top issues and continues to be hotly debated in the field of food safety. The focus is particularly on the molecule groups MOSH (mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons) and its analogues and MOAH (mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons). How do they get into the food? Known entry groups include storage materials and packaging materials, pollutant emissions from combustion, pesticides and lubricating oils used in the food industry.

MOSH / MOAH in food products – what is EFSA’s conclusion?

A draft of the new risk assessment was published in advance for public consultation. According to the draft, a risk of MOSH for public health is excluded. MOAH, on the other hand, is still suspected of being genotoxic and, therefore, also carcinogenic in humans. However, the data for MOAH is not yet sufficient for a detailed toxicological assessment. By means of the margin-of-exposure approach and exposure data, work is continuing to derive a concentration range at which MOAH pose a sufficiently low risk to public health.


The current legal situation: ALARA principle, Basic Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 and Contaminants Control Regulation

Due to insufficient data, it has not yet been possible to set legally binding maximum levels for food. The ALARA principle that contamination of food with undesirable substances should be as low as possible, in accordance with good manufacturing practice, continues to apply. Furthermore, the basic Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 with the requirements of Article 14 for the marketability of safe food products and the Contaminants Control Regulation (EEC) No. 315/93 apply, according to which food products may not be placed on the market if they have been contaminated in a toxicologically unacceptable quantity.

The following publications provide advice on the analytical determination and assessment:


Laboratory analysis for MOSH/MOAH at WESSLING

The determination of MOSH/MOAH is conducted in the WESSLING laboratories in routine analysis using coupled HPLC-GC-FID. Our portfolio covers the analytical determination of the following food matrices in accordance with the LOQmax for MOAH:

  • Low-fat foods < 4% fat 
  • High-fat foods > 4% fat
  • Fats and oils

Expert advice on mineral oil residues in foods 

Our experts also have a great deal of expertise in handling individual questions and challenges relating to mineral oil residues in food. Therefore, we support the food industry in a targeted and solution-oriented manner to fulfil all legal requirements in terms of safe, high-quality food. Our advisory services at a glance:

  • Advice on the current legal situation 
  • Detailed advice and support in selecting the scope of testing required 
  • Creation of informative test reports
  • Plausibility check of analytical findings
  • Counselling on the cause of abnormal findings
  • detailed legal assessment of the analysed findings on request

Your contact person for our food experts

„Do you have questions concerning your specific foods? Please do not hesitate to call on our expertise with your individual questions. We are happy to assist you.“