ECMA Statement - WTO Notification German Mineral Oil Ordinance

As previously stated ECMA opposes the scope of the German Mineral Oil Regulation and points to the lack of coherence in mineral oil policies, arguing this creates unnecessary barriers to trade.

The German federal authorities notified the MO Ordinance to the WTO. (22/03)

As previously stated ECMA opposes the scope of the German Mineral Oil Regulation and points to the lack of coherence in mineral oil policies, arguing this creates unnecessary barriers to trade.

An overview of the main objections:

  • The presence of mineral oils in food can originate from multiple sources, where standard recycled board may only represent one. Inks and certain adhesives have been identified as other sources within the own sphere of responsibility. The presence of mineral oils in food can however also originate from the use of already contaminated ingredients, leakage of lubricants in the production and handling processes and also the transport and storage conditions may contribute to the contamination.
  • In the course of the years all actors in the food supply chain have put a lot of effort in reducing the overall mineral oil contamination. Detailed guidelines were developed e.g. the Toolbox adopted by the German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (BLL). Those efforts have considerably reduced the levels of mineral oils in food.
  • From a toxicological point of view, the main concern is related to the polycyclic aromatic faction, the MOAH with three or more aromatic rings.
    In different platforms e.g. at the workshop on mineral oils (02/2019) organised by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), it has been well acknowledged the presence of PAC 3-7 rings, is originating from crude and combusted oils and that the refined mineral oils used in Europe do not contain this fraction.
    The Dutch Institute for public health and environment (RIVM), stated recently - in the TRIS notification process - once again how it would make sense to look specifically after the sources for contaminations with crude and combusted oils.

Based on these arguments, ECMA opposes the Ordinance. It is considered disproportional to take a measure only for the migration of mineral oils from recycled paper and board, while lacking scientific evidence that this singled-out source leads to exposure to the critical fraction of MOAH.

In addition to the elements already introduced, it is important from an industry and business perspective to avoid unnecessary costs and burdens on trade.
Priority should be given to harmonised, science-based EU Food Safety Legislation.

  • The safety of food contact materials is of paramount importance, but considering the above, it is questionable whether a mineral oil measure on recycled paper and board is necessary for public health reasons, as there is insufficient data available to demonstrate the actual and concrete ability of mineral oils to harm human health.
  • Food safety should be regulated by harmonised European legislation. A patchwork of national measures lead to operational uncertainty, entails additional costs and creates trade burdens. The currently developed mineral oil policies for example at the national level in Germany and France are completely different and even contradictory.
    In Germany the regulation is related to avoiding migration from recycled board, whereas the French law (No 2020-105) focuses on banning standard mineral oil containing inks in all paper and board printing.
  • Within the European Union and for the import of goods from third countries, these mineral oil measures will require changes in packaging and burden businesses in their international trade.


Download the statement here.

ECMA, the European Carton Makers Association
Contact: Mike Turner, Managing Director
Tel: +31 70 312 39 11
E-mail: mturner@ecma.org

Published on 10 May 2021