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Recently, the German official food control and animal health laboratory in Stuttgart reported significant amounts of 3-monochloropropane-1, 2-diol (3-MCPD) fatty acid esters in numerous refined edible oils and fats as well as in foods containing refined fat like infant and toddler formula.

The amount of 3-MCPD in the form of fatty acid esters found in edible oils and fats ranged from around 500 to around10.000µg/kg. The current assumption is that 3-MCPD esters of fatty acids are formed when fat-containing foods containing salt or other sources of chlorides are exposed to high temperatures during manufacturing processes. In fats and oils they are formed during the oil refining process.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has assessed the detected levels from the health angle and recommended that concerted action be taken to lower the levels of 3-MCPD esters in infant and toddler formula.

What is 3-MCPD?

3-MCPD, also referred to as "free" 3-MCPD, has long been recognized as a potential contaminant in numerous heated foods, such as in the crust of bread, in soy sauces and in hydrolysed protein. The compound belongs to the group of chloropropanols. In animal experiments it caused an increase in the cell count (hyperplasia) in the renal tubules and higher levels triggered benign tumours. However, no genotoxic effect has been reported.


Based on these findings the European Commission set a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 2 µg/kg per kg body weight for "free" MCPD. For soy sauce and hydrolysed vegetable protein the European Commission set a maximum level of 20 µg/kg 3-MCPD (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006).

Up to now it is not clear whether 3-MCPD fatty acid esters have the same toxic properties as free 3-MCPD and no data are available about the amount of free 3-MCPD potentially released from the fatty acid esters during the digestive processes.

Eurofins Analytical Offer

Eurofins offers the analysis of 3-MCPD fatty acid by analysing the amount of 3-MCPD before and after chemical hydrolysis of the fat contained in a sample.

Our laboratories constantly invest in R&D to develop and validate new analytical methods. We also keep a close eye, on a daily basis, on scientific developments and changes to national and international legislation.