Mineral oil risk assessment: knowledge gaps and roadmap. Outcome of a multi-stakeholders workshop

Andrea Hochegger, Sabrina Moret, Lucie Geurts, Thomas Gude, Erich Leitner, Birgit Mertens, Susan O'Hagan, Fátima Poças, Thomas J. Simat, Giorgia Purcaro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In recent years there have been significant advancements in the understanding of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in foods and their potential risk to health. However, important gaps in knowledge remain, such as the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices and gaps in assessing the risk for consumers’ health. Scope & approach: A workshop was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute to identify knowledge gaps in analytical methods, assessment of exposure, hazard characterisation, and risk assessment of MOH. This work captures the outcome of the workshop and builds upon it by combining the perspectives of the participants with an updated review of the literature to provide a roadmap for future management of the topic. Key findings and conclusions: Most participants to the workshop agreed that the key issue underlying many of the knowledge gaps in the field of MOH risk analysis and management is the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility and to enable understanding of MOH occurrence in foods. It has been demonstrated that method EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. There is also a need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixture observed from one-dimensional chromatographic methods. This is required to enable adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment. A major gap in the exposure estimation is the limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard. Data on concentration of MOH fractions in human body needed to determine internal exposure estimates is scarce. Data relating concentration in tissues with personal data, lifestyle, food intake and the use of cosmetics are needed to clarify the complex system of distribution of MOSH in the body and to possibly establish relationship between external and internal exposure. Additional toxicological studies to better characterize the hazards of relevant MOH are required for a better human health risk assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in food science & technology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Exposure assessment
  • Food contaminant
  • Mineral oil hydrocarbon
  • MOAH
  • MOSH
  • Risk assessment


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