Mineral oils are commonly used in our daily life, and can be seen in the cosmetics, skincare products, laxative, rust inhibitors and many other products. But when it comes to the food industry, people become more concerned and cautious. What can the mineral oils be used for in food industry? Are the mineral oils safe to eat? Can they cause any potential risks for our health? In this article, the applications and safety concerns of mineral oils will be mentioned.
What is mineral oil?
Mineral oil, also known as white oil, is the by-product of refining the crude oil to make gasoline and petroleum products. It is a kind of oil different from any other animal and vegetable oils. Mineral oils are often colorless, odorless and flavorless.
What can mineral oils be used for?
Low grade mineral oils are considered toxic so they shall be refined to different grades depending on the various purposes from biomedicine, cosmetics, mechanical, electrical and industrial uses.
The medical grade mineral oils can be used as lubricant laxative which have been used for many years to make it easier to have a bowel movement. Though they are are effective for constipation, they potential side effects shall also be considered in the remedy.
The industrial grade white oils can be used in agriculture, textile, chemical fiber, petroleum chemical and electric power industries and can also be used as machinery lubricant or used for the production of PE, PS, and PU.
The cosmetic grade mineral oils can be used as makeup remover or be used in cosmetics or skincare products such as lotions, creams or ointments to help reduce water loss from the skin.
Applications of food grade mineral oils
Food grade mineral oils, which has E number of E905a, are most commonly used in food-handling applications. Due to the flavorless and odorless nature and properties that prevent water absorption, they can be used as preservative for wooden cutting boards and other kitchen utensils to impede absorption of food liquids, food odors. They can also be used to lubricate food-handling equipment, clean and maintain knives, and polish stainless steel surfaces for food contact.
Food grade mineral oils are also occasionally used in food industry. Due to their certain properties, they are allowed to be used as food additives by CODEX and Joint FAO/ WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives.They are usually used for the glossy effects they may bring to the food such as confectioneries, chocolates and rices. They can also be used as defoaming agent, releasing agent, lubricating agent in food processing, and antisticking agent to prevent candies adhering to each other.
Are food grade mineral oils safe to use?
Low grade mineral oils are toxic but the food grade mineral oils are the highly refined products and they are safe to use within the permitted range. Though there is insufficient knowledge about potential negative effects of mineral oil on human health, related authorities have specified the maximum daily intake amount. WHO has once made the safe dose as 20mg/kgBW and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has made a more conservative safe dose of 12mg/kgBW. That means mineral oils won’t be the health threat if the daily intake is under 720mg for an adult.
Therefore, it can be concluded that food grade mineral oils are safe to use and people do not need to make a fuss about the use of food grade mineral oils as food additives. To know more news or information about other food additives, please visit here.