Morpholine is added to some waxes which are used to coat fruits such as apples, citrus and pineapples. It is normally added to the wax as morpholine oleate which dissolves and helps the wax to spread, this also allows for application of the coating in a water-based liquid form. When the wax is dried by hot air treatment, any residual morpholine evaporates and only trace levels are left.
Morpholine is widely used in the USA, Canada, Australia and other parts of the world as a food additive for use as a component or coating for fruits and vegetables. However, the use of Morpholine is prohibited in the European Union, those countries where its use is permitted are fully aware of these restrictions. Consequently, they have strict protocols to ensure waxes containing morpholine are not used for fruit destined for the UK and the EU.
Morpholine is not permitted in Europe because it is known to be a precursor of N-nitrosomorpholine, a carcinogen.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently found residues of Morpholine at around 2 ppm in apples imported from Chile. It is believed that morpholine was used as a carrier for the applied glazing agent in the packhouse in Chile, as described earlier and that this is the source of the residue.
The FSA is preparing a risk assessment to ascertain whether there is an issue with the unapproved use of morpholine on apples and other produce imported to the UK.
SAL anticipate that this assessment may result in the requirement for the analysis of Morpholine. In order to minimize the impact on our customers of such requirements SAL has successfully developed an analytical method for use within our analytical laboratory to test for Morpholine residues.
For further information please contact Nicola Jeffryes on 01954 782791