3-monochloro-1,2-propanediol (3-MCPD) esters, 2-monochloro-1,3-propanediol (2-MCPD) esters, and glycidyl esters are chemical contaminants that are present in refined edible vegetable oils. These contaminants, which form as a result of the high temperatures required for the deodorization step of the refining process, are considered potentially carcinogenic and/or genotoxic. Therefore, their presence in refined oils and foods containing refined oils, particularly infant formula, poses potential health concerns. Numerous research studies over the last several years have focused on the development of methods and the collection of occurrence data for MCPD and glycidyl esters in complex food matrices (including infant formula) in an effort to estimate levels of exposure. In addition, recent EU regulations for bound glycidol with EU regulations for bound 3-MCPD likely imminent, as well, highlight the need for robust analytical methodologies and accurate, up-to-date occurrence data.
Over the last 8 years, researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have developed direct methodologies for the analysis of MCPD and glycidyl esters in edible oils, infant formulas, and other food products containing refined oils. This presentation will detail the results of several occurrence studies encompassing over 300 infant formula products (from the U.S. and Europe) and over 100 food products containing refined oils (from the U.S.) purchased between 2013 and 2019. 3-MCPD and glycidyl ester concentrations in infant formulas varied widely among different U.S. manufacturers, but were generally similar among the European formulas analyzed. In addition, average contaminant concentrations in various food products were generally lower than the EU’s active or proposed regulations.