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New maximum levels for glycidyl esters published in the EU

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On February 26th 2018, with Regulation (EU) 2018/290 amending Regulation (EU) 1881/2006 the European Commision published maximum levels for glycidyl fatty acid esters (glycidyl esters).

Foodstuffs referred to in the Regulation are:

  • Vegetable oils and fats
  • Vegetable oils and fats for the production of baby food and processed cereal-based food for infants and young children
  • Infant formula and follow-on formula (powder and liquid)
  • Foods for special medical purposes intended for infants and young children

The Regulation will come into force on March 19th 2018 and will be directly applicable. Transitional rules are set for those products that were lawfully placed on the market before March 19th 2018.

Glycidyl esters and MCPD esters at a glance

2-Monochloropropane diol esters (2-MCPD esters), 3-monochloropropane diol esters (3-MCPD esters) and glycidyl esters may be formed as process contaminants during refinement of vegetable fats and oils. The contents of MCPD and glycidyl esters in oils and fats depend on the intensity of the industrial procedures. But even the raw material is of major importance. For example, palm oils contain high levels of diglycerides and are therefore especially bound to form 3-MCPD esters.

Glycidyl esters are supposed to be fully transformed into free glycidol, a genotoxic carcinogen, within the human body. Equally, MCPD esters are hydrolised within the gastro-intestinal tract. 3-MCPD is linked to nephron- and testicular toxicity.

Only just in January 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an “Update of the risk assessment on 3-monochloropropane diol and its fatty acid esters” (DOI: 10.2903/j.efsa.2018.5083), setting a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 2 µg/kg body weight and day for free 3-MCPD.

Regulations so far

In addition to those maximum levels for glycidyl esters published right now, Regulation (EU) 1881/2006 already has set maximum levels for free 3-MCPD in hydrolysed vegetable protein and soy sauce as well as glycerin for a couple of years. It is expected that based on EFSA’s new risk assessment on 3-MCPD, the EU will resume consultations on maximum levels for MCPD esters.

Analysis of MCPD esters and glycidyl esters at Eurofins

The Eurofins Competence Centre for Organic Contaminants has long term experience with the analysis of free MCPD, MCPD esters and glycidyl esters using GC-MS/MS. The portfolio includes the direct analysis of free 3-MCPD as well as the indirect analysis of 3-MCPD esters or 3-MCPD and glycidyl esters after ester cleavage (DGF C-VI 18 (10) A and B). The analysis of 2-MCPD esters complements the Eurofins offering.

Questions? – Just contact us!

Please do not hesitate to contact your account manager or directly our expert for the analysis of MCPD esters and glycidyl esters.