Health for humans, animals & plants

Glycidyl fatty acid esters, 3-MCPD and 3-MCPD esters in foods

Final report of the priority action A-052-18

The focus action was to obtain an overview of the levels of glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE), 3-MCPD (free 3-monochloropropanediol) and 3-MCPD esters (3-monochloropropanediol esters) in margarine, unused deep-frying fats, refined single-variety vegetable oils, fine or long-life bakery products (especially cookies, wafers, etc.), filled chocolates and in dry soups. Thirty-four samples from all over Austria were examined.

  • No sample was rejected due to 3-MCPD and 3-MCPD esters.
  • One sample (sunflower oil) was objected because the maximum content for glycidyl fatty acid esters (expressed in glycidol) was exceeded.

Free MCPD (3- and 2-monochloropropanediol) and their esters as well as glycidyl fatty acid esters belong to the process contaminants, as these substances are mainly formed during the production of vegetable fats and oils. They can therefore be present in all refined vegetable fats and oils and therefore in all foods to which these fats and oils are added as an ingredient. 3-MCPD is considered to be possibly carcinogenic to humans. In 2018, EFSA set the daily tolerable intake level at 2 µg/kg body weight per day. So far, no such limit exists for 2-MCPD, as its effects on the organism have not been sufficiently investigated. Glycidyl fatty acid esters are broken down in the body, releasing glycidol. This substance is considered a probable carcinogen and mutagen. Since March 19, 2018, maximum levels for glycidyl fatty acid esters, expressed as glycidol in vegetable fats and oils, as well as for infant formulae, follow-on formulae and foods for special medical purposes for infants and young children have been in force.

Last updated: 18.07.2022

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