Levels of the carcinogenic PAH compounds in margarines are within recommended limits, said Finland's national food agency this week, challenging earlier findings from a Swedish consumer organisation.
The Swedish group announced in May that it had found Becel pro.activ margarine to contain PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) levels exceeding the 5 micrograms per kilo permitted for olive oils in Sweden. Maker of the cholesterol-lowering product Unilever Bestfoods disputed the findings, submitting its own test results to food agencies.
The Finnish food agency says it has received results from the MTT Agrifood Research Finland for 10 margarines which show total PAH levels to be "clearly lower than the limit of 5 micrograms per kilo when the levels for the eight PAH compounds were added together".
Total PAH levels ranged from 0.3 to 1.6 micrograms per kilo. The average was 0.7 micrograms per kilo. The agency concluded that the ten margarine samples can be considered safe.