Last night I read at the German news site Stern Ölpest im Karton — an article about carcinogens and toxins in cardboard packaging from recycled paper. MOSH (“mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons”) and MOAH (“mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons”) are the culprits.
I searched the web and only found this almost one year old page:
3/23/10: Is mineral oil from recycled paper a threat to food safety?
The Germans have now answered with a very clear YES.
Animal testing resulted in liver inflammation and lymph node damage. They established maximums of .01 milligrams of Mosh per kilogram of body weight.
A Swiss analysis documented 3 mg per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of rice and 8 mg in 100 grams of couscous.
Rice, flour and cornflakes are especially likely to be contaminated due to their large surface area.
I have no idea whether this is a problem in America as I found no mention of any studies. We do buy whole wheat pasta in cardboard packaging.
The Germans recommend packaging the food in plastic, which comes with its own hazards. Not only is it NOT entirely impermeable, but bacteria tend to multiply faster in plastic.
Just can't win …
The German long term solution is to use different ink, utilizing plant-based oils.