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Olive Council, Europe Collaborate on Limiting Contaminants in Olive Oil

The IOC has told the EU the threshold for safely being able to consume the chemical 3-MCPD, which is found in refined vegetable oils.

Refined vegetable oils contain the chemical, 3-MCPD, which can be dangerous to human health in high concentrations
Jul. 8, 2019
By Daniel Dawson
Refined vegetable oils contain the chemical, 3-MCPD, which can be dangerous to human health in high concentrations

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The Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) has sub­mit­ted rec­om­men­da­tions to the Euro­pean Union (EU) on the level of a poten­tially can­cer­ous chem­i­cal that can safely be con­sumed in olive oil.

The supra­na­tional body that gov­erns global olive oil qual­ity and stan­dards has told the EU that 1.25 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram is the thresh­old for safely being able to con­sume the chem­i­cal 3‑monochloropropane diol (or 3‑MCPD esters) in olive oil.

The EU did not have enough data for olive oils and there­fore there would have been the risk for olive oils to be included in the 2.5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram group.- IOC Gen­eral Sec­re­tar­iot

3‑MCPD esters are inad­ver­tently added to some veg­etable oils and processed foods dur­ing the refin­ing process.

The EU did not have enough data for olive oils and there­fore there would have been the risk for olive oils to be included in the 2.5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram group,” the IOC Gen­eral Sec­re­tariat announced in its monthly newslet­ter.

See more: Olive Oil Qual­ity News

Depend­ing on the type of fat in a par­tic­u­lar veg­etable oil, 3‑MCPD esters have not been found to be harm­ful in con­cen­tra­tions beneath either 2.5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram or 1.25 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram.

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In par­tic­u­lar, the data clearly showed that vir­gin olive oils do not con­tain any quan­tifi­able amount of this toxic com­pound, thanks to the absence of any refin­ing process,” the report said.

Olive oil pomace and refined olive oils were found to have a thresh­old of 1.25 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram by the IOC, which asked both in-house researchers and mem­ber coun­tries to inde­pen­dently test the safety thresh­olds before pass­ing the results along to the EU.

The EU is in the process of revis­ing its safety stan­dards on the tol­er­a­ble daily intake of 3‑MCPD esters after a sep­a­rate study done by the United Nations Food and Agri­cul­tural Orga­ni­za­tion (FAO) came to a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion than that Euro­pean Food Safety Author­i­ty’s (EFSA) orig­i­nal study did.

EFSA decided to review its assess­ment after the UN’s Joint FAO/WHO Expert Com­mit­tee on Food Addi­tives sub­se­quently estab­lished a dif­fer­ent safe level,” Chris­ter Hogstrand, the chair of the sci­en­tific group that did the orig­i­nal study as well as the revised study, said.

Con­sum­ing 3‑MCPD esters in high con­cen­tra­tions has been shown to be geno­toxic, mean­ing that it can cause can­cer. The UN’s report also found that 3‑MCPD esters can cause kid­ney dam­age and lower fer­til­ity rates in men.

We checked again the data con­cern­ing effects on devel­op­ment and repro­duc­tion, par­tic­u­larly on male fer­til­ity as these were high­lighted by [the report],” Hogstrand said. We cal­cu­lated the lev­els at which pos­si­ble adverse effects on the kid­ney and on male fer­til­ity could occur. The updated tol­er­a­ble daily intake is pro­tec­tive for both types of effects.”

The IOC dis­cussed its find­ings on the safety thresh­olds of 3‑MCPD esters at this year’s Coun­cil of Mem­bers meet­ing, which was held in Morocco.

At the meet­ing, the orga­ni­za­tion also dis­cussed meth­ods to mea­sure the pres­ence of min­eral oils and Poly­cyclic Aro­matic Hydro­car­bons (HAPs) in olive oil, both of which can be found in the envi­ron­ment and are car­cino­genic in high enough con­cen­tra­tions.

All these con­t­a­m­i­nants are basi­cally every­where, but it is impor­tant to work toward a reduc­tion to guar­an­tee the low­est pos­si­ble pres­ence,” the IOC said.

To wrap up the meet­ing in Morocco, the IOC dis­cussed results from a 2018 ring-test on the deter­mi­na­tion of pes­ti­cide residues. The orga­ni­za­tion said that they will con­tinue these tests to deter­mine the max­i­mum residue lim­its that will be allowed in olive oils and other olive prod­ucts.

It was also high­lighted that more infor­ma­tion is needed regard­ing the trans­for­ma­tion fac­tor of pes­ti­cides from the field appli­ca­tion to the final prod­uct, and there­fore more lab­o­ra­to­ries will be con­tacted in order to ask for data, for future dis­cus­sion at the IOC and to be poten­tially pro­vided to the EFSA,” the IOC said.





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