Contaminated spread: Eco-Test found mineral oil in margarine products

MArgarine is healthier, good for baking, and also better for the environment. The arguments often go something like this when you’re standing in front of a supermarket shelf and you have to choose between butter and margarine. An “eco-test” published on Thursday showed that margarine does not necessarily live up to its good reputation. Of the 18 margarine products tested, only half passed the test. Only one margarine was rated as really good.

According to the results of the “ecotest”, all margarine products tested were contaminated with mineral oil, although in some cases only in very small quantities. The components of mineral oil are the so-called saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH/MOSH analogues) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH). The latter in particular pose a significant health risk as they can cause cancer. “Such discoveries not only surprise us, but also irritate us,” says Katja Hölle from Eco-Test. “This problem has been known for a long time and manufacturers have a responsibility to take control of their supply chains regarding entry routes.”

How does mineral oil get into margarine?

Three of the margarine products studied even exceeded the MOAH standard set by the EU Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed. This manual has no legal force. According to the authors of the Eco-Test, Sana’s margarine, Norma’s Frisan vegetable margarine and Penny’s vegetable margarine should no longer be sold.

Wherever the product comes into contact with lubricating oil, such as in industrial production, margarine can be contaminated with mineral oils. Mineral oil components can also separate from the packaging materials and end up in the margarine. However, Eco-Test does not give a clear answer to this question.

The clear winner of the margarine test was Alnatura three-quarter fat margarine with canola and nut oils. It also contains traces of mineral oil. However, it doesn’t contain any additional flavorings and scores points when it comes to ingredients.

“Eco-Test”: Butter behaves even worse

A common ingredient in margarine is palm oil. The use of palm oil has long been criticized because growing monocultures requires clearing huge areas of forest, leading to the destruction of tropical forests in places like Indonesia and Malaysia. Therefore, Öko-Test attaches great importance to the use of certified oils in order to eliminate complaints in the supply chain as much as possible. Only margarine supplier Alnatura was able to make its entire supply chain transparent. On the other hand, Sojola margarine does not contain palm oil.

Compared to butter, margarine still works better. Last year, out of 20 brands of butter, only 3 were able to pass the eco-test. Additionally, the fat composition of most margarines tested is healthier than butter, Tölle says. “In addition, butter is a climate-damaging product. Margarine’s CO₂ balance is even better if it’s made from tropical fats.” When purchasing products containing palm oil, the expert still advises paying attention to the RSPO seal.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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