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SECTOR FOCUS: FOOD GRADE LUBRICANTS


The MOSH and MOAH urban myth


Andreas Adam,


Director Sales Lubricants, FRAGOL AG


If we look at the MOSH (mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons) and MOAH (mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons) panic in food it is clear to see where this initially comes from. In the run up to Christmas 2013 a German consumer organisation published a report that the presence of MOSH and MOAH were found in chocolate.


Consumer organisations have a large following in the general public, not necessarily because of their scientific work, but because these are seen as defending the consumers interest against big industry producers that supposedly do not take their customers’ health too seriously. Foodwatch Germany published their big test 10-2015 with the heading “mineral oil in food” and it was presented in a way that is at best misleading. Food packages on top of oil drums, a dirty oiler can, and in the opening text immediately the note of the cancer forming potential of mineral oils. The test was also televised on various channels broadcasting consumer programmes, and published in a wide number of regional papers. Due to the international presence of Foodwatch it also drew similar attention in a number of other European countries.


The effect on the food producing industries was a serious one. The chocolate sales over Christmas dropped severely, in some cases by 25% and producers of food were forced by their customers to deliver MOSH and MOAH free product under pressure of public sentiment. In various reports brands were


34 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.155 FEBRUARY 2020


also mentioned. In all, a significant loss of sales must have been significant beyond the clear reputation damage to the brand.


The fact that MOSH and MOAH was found in food is not disputed. If you find MOAH you also will find MOSH. These two are connected. The quantity and proportions of MOSH versus MOAH may tell you something of the origin but when it is taken out of context (disassociated from the matrix where it was isolated from) it can be very confusing to find the origin and interpret the data as you will only have analytical information with no point of reference. It could come from packaging material, from a process oil, from nature, from air or water pollution or from a fully regulatory compliant and safe lubricant, to name a few.


We are solving a problem that is not a problem! In 2009, EFSA published their scientific opinion on Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons in food. This report is often referred to by f.e. Foodwatch if they want to show the risks of mineral oils. An updated scientific opinion was published by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) on 28 August 2013. Many European governments have done activities around MOSH and MOAH and broadly MOH (mineral oil Hydrocarbon) in food. When dealing with mineral oil, they use the terms MOSH and MOAH when referring to a food analysis. The analysis is based on the detection of these two fractions (MOSH and MOAH), which then trigger an interpretation of what they mean.


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