When American chemist Lloyd Hall discovered that ethylene oxide was suitable for killing bacteria, viruses and fungi, it made sense to quickly patent this process for the sterilization of spices. This happened in 1938 and ethylene oxide gas was for decades considered a suitable agent for use in the food sector. It is still used today in many countries – in Germany the method has been banned since 1981, in the European Union and some other countries since 1990.
With good reason, as ethylene oxide has been confirmed to be carcinogenic and mutagenic. Food with residues of ethylene oxide are therefore classified as not safe for health. Nevertheless, the substance is still used in third countries, for example in oil seeds and sesame seeds originating in India.
Due to increasing customer inquiries, GALAB has developed its own analysis, which has been available since November 2020. This service is in demand not only for spices and sesam, but also for vegetables and ashwagandha powder. The developed measuring method is a fast headspace GC-MS analysis. With this method, ethylene oxide can be reliably determined as ethylene oxide (sum of ethylene oxide and 2-chloroethanol, expressed as ethylene oxide) according to the residue definition.
GALAB’s service is in high demand by customers, which is hardly surprising. A new regulation of the EU Commission came into force in autumn (Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1540 of October 22, 2020). This states that 50 percent of the sesame seeds from India must be examined for residues of ethylene oxide. This replaces the previous Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1793.
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