New assessments of 3-MCPD esters, a food contaminant

These compounds are found mainly in refined vegetable oils, cereals, coffee, fish, meat, potatoes and nuts.

Although not a new contaminant, since it has been known for decades, 3-MCPD esters (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol fatty acids) are chemical compounds that have not been reported to date. There is sufficient data on its toxicity, presence in food and total dietary intake. This lack of information prevents an adequate assessment of its nutritional risk, which is why various international organizations in charge of this issue recommend the development of additional studies to review its role in human health.

These compounds are found not only in refined vegetable oils and products in which they are used as ingredients, but also in grains, coffee, fish, meat, potatoes and nuts.

This lack of data, with the goal of exchange, was the reason for holding the workshop “3-MCPD esters in food products” in Brussels, organized by the International Health Sciences Institute (ILSI, English acronym), in cooperation with the European Commission, in which more than 70 experts from 20 countries representing industry as well as national and international health authorities.

At this workshop, which lasted two days, all available information was reviewed, data needed for risk assessment were identified, research strategies needed to eliminate the lack of data were defined, and proposals for an action plan were presented. The publication of the work at this workshop is planned for the end of 2009.

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