One way in which mineral oils can enter the food chain is the production process and the process aids used in the process, including the lubricants used in the production of food and food packaging. Traces of mineral oils such as the chemical compounds MOSH (Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons) and MOAH (Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons) should not end up in the human body, not even the smallest amounts: they not only can accumulate in human tissue and may cause adverse effects in the liver, moreover, their carcinogenic effects cannot be ruled out. The EU therefore calls for stronger controls on the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.
This demand currently causes a considerable amount of uncertainty among food manufacturers, as reports about MOSH / MOAH finds can have negative effects such as expensive call-backs, as well as damage to the company's reputation.
Tribology expert Klüber Lubrication has long been addressing this issue and is in line with the highest hygienic standards in place, according to the recommendations of the European Food Safety Authority.
Klüber Lubrication’s global team of experts in the food industry has designed a comprehensive package of services to support customers on this matter from tribological analysis to risk assessment, from lubricants monitoring to training.
“One advantage of our proven methodology is the fact that very small amounts of lubricants are sufficient to achieve the desired lubrication effect, but this is valid only if the selection of the lubricant is right and the lubrication activities are managed in the best way“, says Paolo Spolaore, Market Manager Food Industry of Klüber Lubrication. „Because even with the highest hygienic standards, a contamination or cross-contamination with these substances during production, transport and stock, due to leakages, vapors, evaporation loss or ventilation, cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, high-quality services such as a regular condition monitoring analyses can help to identify or eliminate the risk of contamination at an early stage.“
Due to the complexity of MOH determination in food, there is currently no standardized analytics and no legal limits for MOH in food in Europe. The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft - BMEL) is working on statutory limits for migration through packaging, and values of max. 2 mg MOSH/kg food and 0.5 mg MOAH/kg food are being discussed.
Typically, such analyses are performed by online-coupled chromatography (HPLC-GC/FID). The detection limits strongly depend on the MOH distribution and the type of the sample. For example, in samples with high oil content, the detection is limited to ca. 5 mg MOH/kg food, whereas in dry samples, 0.1-0.5 mg/kg can be observed.
“Partnering with Klüber Lubrication, enhanced by its global relationship with OEMs, enables food producers to ensure the state-of-art of lubrication, monitoring all the activities, training its people and last but not least increasing production efficiency and reducing costs.”