The German body BFR, (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung), has been one of the leading authorities. In their recent publication of February 2018 they came to the revised conclusion that the MOSH and MOAH found in medicinal grade mineral oils is considered not to cause a health risk. This is because MOSH and MOAH coming from refined products have a “refining history” and the results can be put into context. We know where they come from, so the context is given. The refinement history can be exemplified by looking at MOAH: there are two types of MOAH, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic. The first ones are those aromatics that are removed by refinement. The other aromatics which are left in the oil after refinement are an essential part of the oil (to aid good solvency) and don’t make the oil carcinogenic but are still referred to as MOAH, because the basic analytical method currently used can’t distinguish between good or bad MOAH.

Thus, we should not only look at the “fractions” but at the whole product (which of course contains these). It is the oil that is of interest and the fractions are rather a description of the oil, not the other way around. These highly refined mineral oils are used in pharmaceuticals and in cosmetics (e.g creams and lotions) but are also legally used for food contact materials (packaging). We do not have regulations around lubricants in the EU, but since “food grade” lubricants have a known history of the purification process as e.g. the pharmaceutical grade oils, their aromatic content can be interpreted and concluded that it is at trace levels and is non-carcinogenic.

I believe we can extend this conclusion to the H1 lubricants used in food production plants: they are safe even if trace levels of aromatics (MOAH) are present.


Lubricants consist of a wide range of base oils and additives. Mineral Oils are the well known example (better referred to as highly refined mineral base oils, technical white oils and pharmaceutical white oils); but there are also Poly Alpha Olefins (PAO), Polyalkaline Glycols; Polyol Esters; Alkyl Naphthalene; silicones and so on. These are blended with a range of additives dedicated to enhance certain properties of the oil to make it suitable for the intended application.

Mineral oil based lubricants represent a large part of the H1 food grade lubricant market as these are technical good products for a reasonable price capable of doing what they are supposed to do, lubricate. These oils will contain “MOSH and MOAH”, as this is logical, but that is not a problem.

I mentioned H1 and this is a category introduced by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and lubricant products were registered by them based on a submitted formulation. That formulation needed to meet the criteria outlined in the 21CFR178.3570 and the registration is still done today by NSF (and formerly INS) and 2Probity. This is a US based system and is widely adopted in the industry because it is the only system available. It is not accepted in the EU but it is a good marker in any HACCP and GMP

Continued on page 36 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.155 FEBRUARY 2020 35

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