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Advent calendar chocolates safe, says BDSI

By Oliver Nieburg+

28-Nov-2012

The German Confectionery Association (BDSI) has said that chocolates in advent calendars pose no health risk after a consumer group linked products to ‘cancerous’ mineral oils.

German consumer group Stiftung Warentest found mineral oil residues in advent calendar chocolates in a recent study and has called on the manufacturers and packaging firms to clamp down on sources of contamination including machine lubricants and printing inks. See HERE.

BDSI: No health danger

Peter Liefen, a manager for BDSI, said:  “The chocolate is safe. There is no health danger.”

He said that the German risk authority had stated that there were no risks to consumers. See its statement in German HERE.

“It’s panic making,” said Liefen.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a scientific opinion in June that there were two types of mineral oils found in foods: aromatic and saturated oils. It said the aromatic variety was carcinogenic, while the saturated oils were only a potential concern.

Thresholds unclear

Stiftung Warentest classed any product with over 3 mg of aromatic mineral oils as high in the substance and said that anything above 0.5 mg contained the aromatic variety.

Liefen questioned the  Stiftung Warentest’s thresholds for detecting aromatic mineral oils and said that it was not yet known how to differentiate between aromatic oils and saturated oils.

Dangerous levels have also yet to be set, he added.

“It’s one piece of chocolate a day. That’s 0.02 mg of the aromatic oils everyday – it’s nearly nothing,” he said.

He added that it was not a confectionery specific problem and many other foods also carried residues.

EFSA’s scientific opinion in June said that residues were in a variety of products, particularly in dry foods such as bakery.

The oils are also present in the environment, added Liefen.

Newspaper printers

The consumer group Stiftung Warentest has called for packaging firms to stop using inks containing the mineral oils.

However, Liefen said that European packing producers had already changed inks after the industry had stopped using Benzophenone.

He said that the main source was recycled packaging material from everyday newspapers which carry mineral oils in their printing inks.

He added that he printing industry was not willing to change these inks.

“The newspaper printers have to stop using mineral based colors,” he said.

Machine lubricants

Stiftung Warentest also urged food manufacturers to change machine lubricants that are suspected as another source of mineral oil contamination.

Asked if the lubricants were a source of mineral oils, Liefen said: “It’s possible, but it’s a minor source.”

He said that the BDSI would support manufactures using lubricants that do not contain mineral oils.

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