Annelies VAN HEYST

Annelies VAN HEYST

PhD 2021; Now at Primoris Belgium in food safety analyses

Project title:

Mineral oil migration from cardboard food contact materials : Hazard identification and exposure assessment of the Belgian population

Project summary:

Paper and cardboard are important food contact materials used as packaging for dry foods. However, migration of mineral oil components (MOH) from the packaging into various food was reported in amounts far above the migration levels, proposed recently by Germany. The problem behind the MOH contamination of cardboard packed food is that most of these materials contain recycled fibers. One main input material of the paper recycling processes is newspapers that are often printed with inks containing up to 30% of MOH as solvent. Unfortunately, the recycling process does not fully eliminate the printing ink components, leading to a significant quantity of MOH in recycled cardboard. Migration of MOH can be prevented by the inclusion of functional barriers. However, the barrier capacities of the inner bags currently used are insufficient or even unknown. In a recent opinion on MOH, the EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) indicated that occurrence data on MOH are only available for a limited number of food groups and from few countries. Another point of concern, is that the potential health effects related to the contamination of the food chain by mineral oil are largely unknown.

The aim is to evaluate the presence of MOH in food packed on the Belgian market, followed by an exposure assessment of the Belgian adult population to these contaminants. Afterwards, some of the hazards associated with MOH will be investigated. The data obtained within the project will support the Belgian authorities for the implementation of new rules.


Mineral oil, MOSH, MOAH, analytical and toxicological screening method


Marc Elskens