Analysis of Mineral Oils (MOSH/POSH/MOAH)
Today mineral oil is found in a wide variety of foodstuffs as it can enter food commodities as well as processed products anywhere along the food processing and trade chain. Potential sources are fuels, exhaust fumes, lubricant oils, anti-dusting agents, surface treatment agents, batching oils, packaging materials etc. Food manufacturers and distributors as well as analytical laboratories are faced with enormous challenges when trying to elucidate the source and point of contamination.
Relevant food groups for mineral oil contaminations include rice, cereal flours, cereals, chocolate products, spices (e.g. pepper), fats and oils as well as further processed foods.
MOSH, MOAH, POSH, PAO
The mineral oil fraction of concern consists mainly of complex mixtures of hydrocarbons (C10 up to C50) mainly of fossil origin.Mineral oils of technical grade are composed of Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons (MOSH) as well as up to 50 % Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH). Contrary to the structurally related and cancerogenic PAH, MOAH are complex mixtures of compounds with differing and mainly unknown toxicities. In addition to the mineral oil fractions MOSH and MOAH, the so called POSH (polyolefinic oligomeric saturated hydrocarbons) as well as PAO (poly alpha olefins) move more and more into the spotlight. POSH are oligomeric substances, potentially migrating from plastic packagings (PE and PP). PAO are synthetic isoparaffins with short main and long side chains used e.g. in synthetic lubricants and adhesives.
Our experts from the Competence Centre for Organic Contaminants have long-term experience with the analysis of mineral oils from food matrices. A new online-HPLC-GC technique enables the separate quantification of MOSH/POSH/PAO and MOAH within one chromatographic run. An additional LC-GC-MS method allows for the qualitative characterization of the mineral oil hydrocarbons - a possibility to elucidate the source of contamination.
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