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Alert for carcinogenic substances in vegetable fats

3-Monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) is a food processing contaminant classified as a possible carcinogen for which the tolerable daily intake (TDI) has been set at 2 µg/kg body weight

The main target of 3-MCPD toxicity is the kidney, with chronic oral exposure leading to nephropathy and tubular hyperplasia and adenomas. The international Agency for Research on Cancer classified 3-MCPD as a possible human carcinogen.

3-MCPD was first discovered in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a seasoning ingredient, in soy sauce and similar foods. The compound is formed by heat as a reaction product of triacylglycerols, phospholipids or glycerol and hydrochloric acid in fat-based or fat-containing foods. Depending on the type of food it may occur as a free substance, in the form of an ester and with fatty acids in both forms.

The EFSA report assessed data on the occurrence of 3-MCPD in foods from 14 EU members from 2009-2011 and found that margarines and similar products contributed to 13-83% of the total exposure to the contaminant, bread and rolls (in which margarines are used) contributed to 6-26%, vegetable oils and fats contributed to 5-74%, fine bakery wares 4-29% and preserved meals 3-18%. Overall edible refined fats and oils, like margarines and vegetable oils, were the biggest contributors.

The Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 which set maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs set the level of 3-MCPD at 20 µg/kg for HVP and soy sauce whereby the maximum level is given for the liquid product containing 40 % dry matter, corresponding to a maximum level of 50 μg/kg in the dry matter. The level needs to be adjusted proportionally according to the dry matter content of the products(2).

As EFSA noticed that there was some uncertainty about exposure and occurrence and that the dataset does not include composite foods such as fried, baked or other thermally treated fat-containing products, EFSA urged food companies to provide their own data on 3-MCPD to strengthen the current dataset.

by S. C.
02 december 2013, World News > Europe

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