Migration of mineral hydrocarbons into foods. 6. press lubricants used in food and beverage cans

Sue M. Jickells, Janet Nichol, Laurence Castle

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Unused food and beverage cans were supplied by manufacturers together with two typical samples of press lubricants used to facilitate stamping of can ends. The lubricants were based on mineral hydrocarbon fractions. The cans were of aluminium two-piece construction (two sizes) and tin-plate steel three-piece construction (two sizes) and of four representative types. Gas chromatographic analysis was used to distinguish the two press lubricants from one another by their n-alkane profiles. Analysis of solvent extracts of the cans indicated that one of the two press lubricants had been used in the manufacture of the three-piece cans and the other lubricant for the two-piece cans. Residual levels of hydrocarbons were between 0.05 and 1.1 mg per can. Based on the capacity of the cans and assuming all the mineral hydrocarbon transferred to the contents, maximum levels in foods and beverages could be between 0.1 and 4.4 mg/kg. A limited number of retail products were also analysed. For the 35 samples covering 18 retail brands of canned foods and beverages, press lubricants were considered to be present in 50% of the products at levels ranging from 0.05 to 1.0mg per can, equivalent to 0.1 to 3.6mg/kg of food. Additionally mineral oil of unknown origin was detected in 10 of the retail products at levels of 0.1 to 4.7 mg/kg. Analysis of a sparkling apple juice packed in a glass bottle showed mineral oil at 0.3 mg/kg compared with 0.7 mg/kg for the same canned product, indicating that although mineral oils may be used in can manufacture they may also be derived from other parts of the food processing chain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-604
Number of pages10
JournalFood Additives and Contaminants
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Beverages
  • Canned foods
  • Mineral hydrocarbons
  • Press lubricant

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