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New Warning on the Risks of Carcinogenic Substances in Vegetable Fats

The international Agency for Research on Cancer classified 3-MCPD as a possible human carcinogen (1). SGS informs readers on the risk of carcinogenic substances in foodstuff.

Antwerp, Belgium, January 03, 2014 --( Carcinogenic 3-MCPD in Food Products Containing Vegetable Fat

3-MCPD was first discovered in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a seasoning ingredient, in soy sauce and similar foods. The compound is formed by heat as a reaction product of triacylglycerols, phospholipids or glycerol and hydrochloric acid in fat-based or fat-containing foods. Depending on the type of food it may occur as a free substance, in the form of an ester and with fatty acids in both forms.

The EFSA report (1) assessed data on the occurrence of 3-MCPD in foods from 14 EU members from 2009-2011 and found that margarines and similar products contributed to 13-83% of the total exposure to the contaminant, bread and rolls (in which margarines are used) contributed to 6-26%, vegetable oils and fats contributed to 5-74%, fine bakery wares 4-29% and preserved meals 3-18%. Overall edible refined fats and oils, like margarines and vegetable oils, were the biggest contributors.

The Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 which set maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs set the level of 3-MCPD at 20 µg/kg for HVP and soy sauce whereby the maximum level is given for the liquid product containing 40 % dry matter, corresponding to a maximum level of 50 μg/kg in the dry matter. The level needs to be adjusted proportionally according to the dry matter content of the products(2).

As EFSA noticed that there was some uncertainty about exposure and occurrence and that the dataset does not include composite foods such as fried, baked or other thermally treated fat-containing products, EFSA urged food companies to provide their own data on 3-MCPD to strengthen the current dataset.

The SGS Food Lab Network can offer the analyses of 3-MCPD and its esters under accreditation.


(1) EFSA Journal 2013;11(9):3381 - Analysis of occurrence of 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) in food in Europe in the years 2009-2011 and preliminary exposure assessment (

(2) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 - Setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (

About SGS Food Safety Services

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulatory news and developments. Leveraging a global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions including analytical testing, audits, certifications, inspections and technical support ( SGS continually invests in world class testing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology to help you reduce risks, and improve food safety and quality.

For further information please contact an SGS expert.

Contact details:

SGS Consumer Testing Services
Guy Lamon
Global Competence Support Center
Food Technical Support
SGS – Belgium NV

t: +32 3 545 87 77

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 75 000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1 500 offices and laboratories around the world.
Contact Information
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Guy Lamon
+32 3 545 87 77

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