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Mineral oils: a real health hazard

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In its opinion on mineral oils, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) confirms that toxic substances that migrate from packaging - often made of recycled paper or cardboard - to food do indeed pose a risk to our health.
 
Dnce years after its referral, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Labour Safety (ANSES) has published its report on the migration of mineral oils in foodstuffs. Published on 9 May, the report is final: measures must be taken without delay. The new ministers will have to work on this as a matter of urgency.
 
The ANSES considers it necessary to protect consumers against the dangers posed by these hydrocarbon derivatives, invisible to the naked eye but present in our food. The Agency confirms the mutagenic, carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting nature of mineral oils that migrate from paper and cardboard packaging to foodstuffs. Many foods are contaminated with aromatic mineral oils, which are potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic. These oils, which are petroleum derivatives, come largely from printing inks in packaging made from recycled paper. They can therefore alter our genetic heritage. 
 
In October 2015, the NGO foodwatch published the results of an alarming study: 60% of the foods tested in France (rice, breakfast cereals, lentils, couscous, pasta...) were contaminated by aromatic mineral oils. According to the NGO, these oils "can migrate into food through several sources throughout the production process". Among other factors of contamination, Foodwatch cites the production environment, the residues of products used by machines during the manufacture of packaging, but also environmental pollution (during transport) or the jute bags in which, for example, cocoa beans are transported.
Also known as MOAH, these volatile substances, which migrate in particular from cardboard packaging to food, are well known to manufacturers and distributors. Scientists have been denouncing for years the risks they present: potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic. 
 

Contamination of food by mineral oils: the ANSES confirms their danger to health

In Europe, foodwatch had tested more than a hundred consumer foods in Europe by October 2015, and revealed that more than 60% of the foodstuffs purchased in France contained these MOAHs, the most dangerous category.
 
ANSES experts consider as a priority the necessary reduction of the contamination of foodstuffs by these mineral oils. They are already calling for "limiting consumer exposure".
 
The French Food Safety Agency immediately recommends the use of barriers to limit the migration of mineral oils from packaging to food: "It would be appropriate to use barriers whose effectiveness has been recognised and previously tested according to a sufficiently robust methodology such as that proposed by Biedermann-Brem and Grob", two world experts in the field. These barriers consist of a layer integrated into the packaging.
 
In a petition addressed to the European Commission and signed by more than 122,000 people, foodwatch calls for these barriers to be made mandatory across Europe. The new French government will therefore have to take up the issue: "The opinion of the ANSES confirms that there is no need to dither any longer. The public authorities must protect the health of consumers by urgent measures".says Karine Jacquemart, director of foodwatch France.
 
For André Cicolella, toxicologist and president of the Réseau Environnement Santé : "We have enough toxicological data to legislate, so what are we waiting for? In addition, there is a need to be consistent with the national strategy to reduce population exposure to endocrine disruptors. "We need to be consistent with the national strategy to reduce population exposure to endocrine disruptors because "Today, there are multiple carcinogenic risks and the causes influence each other".  
"This study is just one more confirmation that we are now witnessing a global health crisis that needs to be addressed through a national strategy, not substance by substance, said the president of RES at a meeting of the interview at We tomorrow in October 2015, which calls on citizens to react in order to force the government to "a more rigorous and ambitious policy than at present".
 
Since November 2016, six big names in retail - E.Leclerc, Carrefour, Lidl, Intermarché, Casino and Système U - had taken the lead, without waiting for a political decision that was long overdue, and had committed themselves against contamination in their private label products. The six retailers set a clear limit to contamination, by determining maximum thresholds for the presence of mineral oils in food: no detectable presence for the most dangerous category, MOAH, and a maximum of 2mg/kg for the other category, MOSH. Several of them already make use of functional barriers in cardboard packaging, which prevent mineral oils from migrating into food. This is one of the most effective technical solutions.
 
To ensure the protection of all, the government can and should also set strict limits on the amount of mineral oil in food, and make the use of barriers for paper and cardboard packaging mandatory. The association What to choose was already publishing an article in 2011 on the subject...
 
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