12 January - 20 June 2016

Analysis of occurrence of 3-MCPD

9 Oct 13

Very young children and the elderly may be at particular risk from a potentially carcinogenic chemical compound formed in margarines, bread and vegetable oils when heated, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  The compound, 3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol) has an established tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 2 μg/kg of bodyweight.  In a new scientific report, EFSA found that although most population groups consumed less than half the TDI, toddlers and the elderly could be at risk of consuming more than the recommended maximum amount.  Toxicological animal studies have shown that the main target organ for 3-MCPD toxicity is the kidney.  3-MCPD has also been shown to induce infertility in rats and suppression of the immune function.  Evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats and some evidence of carcinogenicity activity in female rats has also been reported.  The current report assessed data on the occurrence of 3-MCPD in foods from 14 EU member states from 2009-2011 and found that margarine and similar products contributed 13-83% of total exposure to the compound; bread and rolls contributed 6-26% of the total; vegetable fats and oils contributed 5-74%; fine bakery wares 4-29%; and preserved meats 3-18%.  Margarines and vegetable oils were the greatest contributors overall.  The compound was first detected in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, a seasoning ingredient, in soy sauce and similar foods in 1978, in which it formed as a reaction product of hydrochloric acid with triacylglycerols, phospholipids and glycerol from the residual vegetable oil.  The report recommends identifying and including in the data collection additional food groups such as fried, baked or otherwise thermally treated fat-containing food, not covered in the present dataset and potentially containing 3-MCPD (including composite foods).

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