Mineral Oil Use in Food and Potential Health Effects
Mineral oils commonly used as printing ink solvents can diffuse into foodstuffs when they migrate from paperboard food packaging. Not all food packaging printing inks contain mineral oils. However they can be present in unprinted, recycled packaging material from newspaper residues and other sources of recycling. 2,6-isopropyl-naphthalene (DIPN) is used as solvent in carbonless copy paper and enters paperboard food packaging through the recycling stream.
Mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) are of significant concern in the food supply since they contain known mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds. Due to a lack of toxicological data the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) maintains the current acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0.01 mg/kg bodyweight for mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) of the size C16 to C35 (EFSA 2012). Main health concerns related to MOSH are specific immune system responses (microgranuloma) that can impair organ functioning.
Principle Behind the Coupled LC-GC Method for Mineral Oil Analysis
For the coupled LC-GC Method, HPLC is used first as a separation to isolate the MOSH fraction away from the MOAH fraction (see chromatogram below).
The MOSH and MOAH fractions are then analyzed by gas chromatography to separate out the individual MOAH and MOSH components. The HPLC helps remove contaminants normally present in food and packaging material. Less solvent is consumed as compared to standard SPE methods. And the entire process is automated thus simplifying a very complex process.
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