Here we publish information on other contaminants, e.g. extraction solvents, contaminants in bleaching earth, erucic acid and cyanogenic glycosides in linseed/flaxseed.
Extraction solvents: 
Legislation on extraction solvents can be found in Directive 2009/32/EC (consolidated) (authorised use in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients).
Contaminants in Bleaching earth: 

The Fediol code of practice on the purchase conditions of fresh bleaching earth and filter aids for vegetable oils and fats refineries and integrated plants prescribes quality and safety criteria as well as methods of analysis to be used for contaminants in fresh bleaching earth and filter aids. 


Erucic acid

Erucic acid – a naturally occurring contaminant present in vegetable oil – is not a safety concern for most consumers as average exposure is less than half the safe level. But it may be a long-term health risk for children up to 10 years of age who consume high amounts of foods containing this substance. EFSA also found that levels of erucic acid present in animal feed may be a health risk for chickens.

Erucic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which is present in the oil-rich seeds of the Brassicaceae family of plants, particularly rapeseed and mustard. It mainly enters the food chain when rapeseed oil is used in industrial food processing and home cooking in some countries. It is present in pastries, cakes and infant/follow-on formulae and also in some animal feed (e.g. rapeseed meal).

Although natural forms of rapeseed and mustard contain high levels of erucic acid (over 40% of total fatty acids), levels in rapeseed cultivated for food use are typically below 0.5%.

  • Commodities Act: Warenwetbesluit smeerbare vetproducten article 3: Maximum limits are: for Erucic acid max 5%, for erucic acid and its isomers: max 6.5%. 
  • In 1976 the EU set maximum limits for erucic acid as a contaminant in vegetable oils and fats, and foods containing added vegetable oils and fats as an ingredient. Also, specific maximum limits for infant formulae and follow-on formulae were set five times lower than for other foods. The Consolidated legal text Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs can be found here
  • EFSA did a risk assessment as part of a review of the maximum levels. See: EFSA scientific opinion 'Erucic acid in feed and food' of 21 September 2016.


Cyanogenic glycosides in linseed/flaxseed

Cyanogenic glycosides are a group of natural substances found in plants that release cyanide, a poisonous compound, when degraded by enzymes or organic acids.

Cyanogenic glycosides contain chemically bound cyanide and are present in almonds, linseed and cassava. When plant cells are damaged, by grinding or chewing, these compounds and their degrading enzymes are brought into contact and cyanide is released.

The EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) have published a report which analyses the presence of cyanogenic glycosides in foods other than raw apricot kernels. They agreed that an acute reference dose 15 (ARfD) of 20 µg/kg bw was (established for cyanide) was applicable for all acute effects of CN regardless of the dietary source.








Last modified: October 19, 2020 14:22