Flaxseed in the test: some are contaminated with mineral oil

Flaxseed in the test: We have had 20 times ground flaxseed tested in the laboratory

Flaxseeds contain a lot of fiber, vegetable protein and omega-3 fatty acids. So they are actually healthy. But unfortunately there are also some undesirable substances in it. This shows our test. From our point of view "increased Mineral oil content worsens some overall ratings.

  • In the test: 20 packages of ground flaxseeds. Only one product was rated "very good from.
  • From our point of view, some flaxseeds contain "elevated" mineral oil Mineral oil content.
  • Striking: the sensitive fats in the flaxseeds are mostly fine and not rancid.
  • Unpleasant, however: Some manufacturers show little responsibility for the working conditions in the growing countries.

Add it to muesli or yogurt: two spoonfuls of ground flaxseed can go a long way toward a balanced diet. The high proportion of good fiber and the pleasant nutty taste are just two of several advantages.

Davert, Demeter, Dm and Co.: Flaxseed in the test

For flaxseed to be really healthy, it should of course be free of harmful substances. And this is unfortunately often not the case in our test: We criticize "increased" from our point of view Mineral oil content, and one product also contains the spray poison glyphosate.

Only one product was rated "very good" overall From. Seven others we can with the total judgement "good" recommend.

Flaxseeds are considered healthy because they contain a lot of fiber, vegetable protein and omega-3 fatty acids

Mineral oil is a problem in flaxseed

Mineral oil is a problem in the flaxseeds in the test. In total we criticize ten times Contaminated with saturated mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOSH) and chemically very similar compounds (MOSH analogs). MOSH accumulate in the human body. Which consequences this has, is still unclear.

The load in one of the test lights is even "strongly increased" according to oKO-TEST assessment and exceeds the orientation value that food producers and monitoring authorities have agreed on for oilseeds. In this product, the laboratory also detected aromatic mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOAH), which really have no place at all in food.

The MOAH group of substances may also include compounds suspected of causing cancer. It is conceivable that the mineral oil components have been transferred to the meal, for example from packaging.

Hydrogen cyanide in flaxseed under test

What many do not know: Flaxseeds, like bitter apricot kernels and bitter almonds, are among the foods that naturally contain relatively high levels of so-called cyanogenic glycosides from which hydrocyanic acid is released during chewing and digestion.

That is for now no reason to panic, because the human body can break down certain amounts of prussic acid. In addition, unlike highly contaminated bitter apricot kernels, there are no reports of poisoning symptoms or even deaths from flaxseed. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has determined that less prussic acid enters the bloodstream from flaxseed than from apricot kernels.

Risk for children is unclear

The experts found even highly contaminated flaxseed to be harmless to health, provided that an adult eats no more than 15 grams per meal – based on 3 meals per day. So, to be on the safe side, you should not eat more than two tablespoons at most per meal of raw flaxseed.

However, the safety of raw flaxseed for children is unclear. We complain with a row of products that on the packing the reference to a maximum admission quantity and/or the information that the linseeds are not suitable for small children at all, is missing.

Flaxseed can contribute to a balanced diet

There is no legal limit so far

Both voluntary, but important statements. A legal limit for hydrocyanic acid in flaxseed There are no reports of poisoning symptoms or even deaths from linseed, but a maximum level of 150 milligrams per kilogram is currently being discussed at EU level. Based on this, we rate the content in some products as "elevated".

By the way: Hydrogen cyanide volatilizes when flaxseed is heated up.

How the tested flaxseeds taste

What else stood out in the flaxseed test??

  • Good news from the lab: the sensitive fats contained in the flaxseeds were not rancid. The sensory experts only noticed odor peculiarities once: one product smelled slightly old and very slightly fishy.
  • The laboratory found only small traces of lead and cadmium, and except for one product that contained traces of the spray poison glyphosate, all others were free of pesticides.

None of the flaxseeds in the test comes from Germany

Although flax also thrives in this country and flaxseed is therefore a "domestic superfood", it is not a foodstuff are supposed to be, zero of the flaxseeds tested come from Germany. Raw materials from Austria, Italy, Poland and France are used once each.

However, the two most common cultivars are Kazakhstan and India, countries with a rather insecure legal and social situation – like also Russia. For countries of origin with a higher risk of human rights violations, it is especially important that suppliers take care to ensure that working conditions are also in order at the beginning of their supply chain.

Walnuts under test: mineral oil and bad taste a problem

In our walnut test, we also came across contamination with mineral oil. In addition, not all of the tested products were convincing in taste.

We asked the companies for all flaxseeds in the test to make their stations transparent to us before sale. For the We asked risk countries about efforts to ensure fair working conditions and asked for meaningful documents. In eight out of 14 cases, the suppliers provided us with external certificates and audit reports based on international social standards.

For four other products from risk countries, the companies at least made their supply chains transparent to us. What we consider a very bad sign is that for two flaxseeds we received no response at all.

Tips for the consumption of flaxseed

  • If you eat flaxseed, you should add to it drink plenty. Without fluid intake, ground flaxseeds can stick together in such a way that they block the intestine.
  • Ground flaxseed is also suitable as a Egg substitute for example, when baking sponge cakes or whole-grain pastries, or for binding frying patties. They give a slightly nutty flavor. To replace an egg, mix one tablespoon of flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of warm water. When flaxseeds are baked, as mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about toxic hydrogen cyanide. It evaporates with heat.
  • Ground flaxseeds are quickly rancid. That speaks for buying smaller packages. Store in an airtight container if possible.

Read more on oekotest.de:

We tested these products for you

This is what you get in digital retrieval

6 pages
Page 46 – 51 in Magazine February 2022: Vitamins
from 27.01.2022

Test procedure

We have purchased ground flaxseed 20 times. In line with the significantly greater prevalence of organic flaxseeds, we included 18 products with organic labels and only two from conventional cultivation in the test.

In specialized food laboratories we had the seeds tested for pesticide residues and a number of other substances. This is how toxic heavy metals lead and especially cadmium from soil can accumulate in flaxseed. And its large surface area makes the ground seed susceptible to mold and contamination with mineral oil. Naturally contained in the seeds are substances that can release hydrocyanic acid. Here we wanted to know whether particularly high concentrations occur. Sensory experts tested the appearance and smell of the seeds for purity and freshness.

We also asked the manufacturers to provide us with transparency on the supply chain of the raw material and to provide us with evidence of their efforts to provide adequate labor protection for local people.

Evaluation legend

Products with the same overall rating are listed in alphabetical order. Unless otherwise stated, the devaluation limits mentioned here are not legal limits, but those set by oKO-TEST. The devaluation limits were set by oKOTEST in consideration of the measurement uncertainties resulting from specific tests and method-immanent variances.

Test result ingredients: The test result "Ingredients" leads to a devaluation by four grades: a test result of saturated mineral oil hydrocarbons and analogs (MOSH and MOSH analogs) of chain lengths C17 to C35 of more than 4 mg/kg (in the table: "MOSH strongly increased"). The following lead to a devaluation of two grades: a) a test result of saturated mineral oil hydrocarbons and analogs (MOSH and MOSH analogs) of chain lengths C17 to C35 of more than 2 to 4 mg/kg (in the table: "MOSH increased"); b) the detection of aromatic mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOAH), if not already devaluated for MOSH/MOSH analogs by four grades (in the table: "MOAH detected"). The following lead to devaluation by one mark each: a) an examination result of saturated mineral oil hydrocarbons and analogs (MOSH and MOSH analogs) of chain lengths C17 to C35 of more than 1 to 2 mg/kg (in table: "MOSH slightly elevated"); b) a pesticide of special concern with a measured content of more than 0.01 mg/kg (here: glyphosate); c) a measured prussic acid content of more than 150 mg/kg of ground flaxseed (in table: "prussic acid elevated"). Under the test result sensory leads to devaluation by one mark: a deficiency in the smell described as "slightly old, very slightly fishy".

test results occupational health and safety and transparency: Under the test result Occupational health and safety and transparency leads to devaluation by two marks: no sufficient evidence of efforts to ensure occupational health and safety of employees in a country of cultivation classified as critical in the form of external certification or audits. As evidence we evaluated a SMETA audit (= Sedex Virtual Assessment Report) and/or a We Care certification of the manufacturer or upstream supplier (We Care = management standard for sustainability in the supply chain). leads to the devaluation by one mark: a supply chain not sufficiently supported by documents. If the manufacturer generally did not provide any information on occupational health and safety or the supply chain, the test result occupational health and safety and transparency is "insufficient". Under the test result Other deficiencies lead to devaluation by one grade each: a) a missing (but not legally required) consumption recommendation for the daily maximum amount of flaxseed for adults and/or a missing (but not legally required) notice that the consumption of flaxseed is not suitable for young children (z.B. "not suitable for children under 4 years of age"); b) a lack of (but not legally required) advice to drink plenty of fluids (z.B. "Consuming with sufficient liquid, as flaxseed has a high swelling capacity."); c) Advertising with self-evident.

If "no" is indicated for specific analysis results, means "below the limit of quantification the respective test method.

The Overall assessment is based on the test result Ingredients. A test result occupational health and safety and transparency that is "insufficient worsens the overall rating by two grades. A test result occupational health and safety and transparency, the "satisfactory" or "sufficient" worsens the overall rating by one mark. One test result Other deficiencies, the "satisfactory" worsens the overall rating by one mark. Test results Occupational health and safety and Transparency and test results Other deficiencies that are "good do not worsen the overall rating.

Test methods

Pesticides: according to ASU L 00.00-34; GC-MS/MS and LC-MS/MS.
Glyphosate: LC-MS/MS.
Mineral oil: according to DIN EN 16995: 2017, modified. The modification concerns saponification and a different matrix.
Aflatoxins: according to DIN EN 14123: 2008, modified. The modification concerns a different matrix, as well as a partial automation of reprocessing steps.
Lead, cadmium: digestion according to DIN EN 13805: 2014; measurement according to DIN EN 15763: 2010.
GMO screening: PCR.
Hydrogen cyanide: DIN EN 16160:2012 mod./HPLC; the modification concerns a different matrix.
Sensor technology: according to ASU L 00.90-16: 2006. After individual audits, the individual results are discussed in the group and a common overall result is developed.
PVC/PVDC/chlorinated compounds in packaging: X-ray fluorescence analysis.

Purchase of the test products: October 2021

Tests and their results are protected by copyright. No reprints, copies, microfilms, or recordings in electronic media may be made and/or distributed without written permission from the publisher.

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