Abstract Title:

Migration of mineral hydrocarbons into foods. 4. Waxed paper for packaging dry goods including bread, confectionery and for domestic use including microwave cooking.

Abstract Source:

Food Addit Contam. 1994 Jan-Feb;11(1):79-89. PMID: 8181636

Abstract Author(s):

L Castle, J Nichol, J Gilbert

Article Affiliation:

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Food Science Laboratory, Colney, Norwich, UK.


Retail samples of dry goods (bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals) packaged in waxed paper were examined for the presence of mineral hydrocarbon wax. Bread loaves contained up to 50 mg/kg of the wax (associated with the outer surfaces) and crackers up to 185 mg/kg. Mineral oil was found in bread samples, at up to 550 mg/kg and was dispersed throughout indicating its use in food processing machinery as the likely source. Retail confectionery products wrapped in waxed paper (containing 12-44% w/w) gave rise to levels of 12-1300 mg/kg mineral hydrocarbon in the individually wrapped sweets. Migration into boiled sweets was lowest at 10-130 mg/kg, whilst soft chews and toffee products contained 110-1300 mg/kg. The distribution of wax hydrocarbons (principally n-alkanes) in the confectionery coincided exactly with that for the paper wrapping, with a range of C23 to C33 (95% material) centred around C26. This indicated that the transfer to the food occurred largely by adhesion rather than by diffusion since the latter would be expected to favour preferential migration of the low molecular weight components. In simulated home-use experiments with waxed bags sold in the United States for domestic use, migration into sandwiches and cake amounted to 40 mg/kg (1% transfer of wax). Use of these waxed bags in the microwave oven (as recommended) gave rise to contamination of foods from 210 to 1650 mg/kg (up to 60% transfer of wax).

Study Type : Review

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