After industry watchdog group Foodwatch released a report last October that aromatic mineral oils (MOAH) were found in 16 infant formula brands, including Danone’s Gallia Galliagest Lactose-free Growing-up product, the French manufacturing giant recently publicly disputed the non-profits claim.
In a statement released earlier this month, Danone said it “strongly disputes” the claim that its infant formula contains toxic residue. “We have carried out in-depth [independent] analyses, which have not shown the presence of mineral oil in our infant nutrition products,” said the firm in a statement reported on by Food Navigator.
Last year’s finding reinforced Foodwatch’s report from 2015 that showed Danone’s infant nutrition products sold in France had MOAH contaminants.
MOAH compounds are aromatic hydrocarbons that the European Food Safety Authority identifies as potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic. However, there are no regulations for these mineral oils and no legal limitations as to what quantity may be present in foods. Foodwatch called for a zero tolerance policy for these compounds in food products last year saying that they are a “public health issue.”
Since the non-profit called out Danone for the presence of these mineral oils in its infant formula last fall, Foodwatch has been circulating a petition to draw attention to this issue. As of July 3, Food Navigator reported that there are 64,000 signatories and that the industry watchdog has written to 109 state representatives to encourage the removal of products contaminated with MOAH.
This campaign prompted Danone to defend itself saying, “The safety of our products is our top priority. We have implemented strict quality control programs, in particular to prevent MOAH residues in our products at all stages of our manufacturing process.” The company said its infant nutrition products undergo 600 quality and safety checks before arriving on supermarket shelves.
In addition to questions about the quantities of MOAH in Danone’s infant formulas, an independent research study published last year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that several of Danone’s ready-to-drink infant formulas are “heavily contaminated with aluminum.” In a similar vein, Science Magazine reported recently that the European Food Safety Authority rejected Danone’s claim that its specialized infant formulas strengthen babies’ immune systems.