The margarine industry is up in arms and blaming everyone else. This is due to the report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) pinpointing margarine as the highest contributor to 3-MCPD exposure and reviewed here in a previous blog. This process contaminant as you might recall is particularly toxic to the kidney. What is making the situation problematic is that according to EFSA’s calculations some sections of the European population exceed the safe limit for this possible carcinogen. These include children, toddlers, the elderly and the very elderly, so a broad spectrum of the population. Margarine and similar products accounted for up to 70% of exposure to 3-MCPD in several population groups.
Now we hear that representatives for the margarine industry point the finger at the oil refining industry. They state that 3-MCPD is formed during the refining of oils and not during margarine production. This might of course be right but you would expect the manufacturers of margarine to take responsibility for the product they sell. The findings of 3-MCPD esters in margarine should not have caught manufacturers unaware since you expect vigilance in relation to the presence of toxic chemicals in their own product and raw material inputs. There is no real surprise that 3-MCPD can be found in refined oils since it is known that it can be formed when heating fat-based and fat containing foods.
The margarine industry further try to shift blame to other parts of the food industry claiming that 3-MCPD esters occur in all food products containing refined vegetable oils and fats such as confectionary, cakes, biscuits, soups, ready meals and also margarines. There are some mitigating factors in that levels of 3-MCPD esters can only be determined accurately in vegetable oils and fats, while there are no validated methods yet to analyse the levels in final food products. EFSA thus recommends that standard analytical methods should be further developed and established to analyse 3-MCPD in different foods. So there might still be surprises to come.
In the meantime it might be safer to use butter for your sandwich or why not a few drops of cold-pressed olive oil to better comply with a healthy Mediterranean diet.
- Margarine vs. Butter (horningchiropracticcenter.wordpress.com)
- Margarine makers stress uncertainties in EFSA 3-MCPD report (EU Food Law)
- Vegetable fats specialists ‘working hand-in-hand’ to study carcinogen risk (Food Navigator)
- 3-MCPD esters (Lindemann)