An aromatic hydrocarbon called methylnaphthalene is present the substance giving off the unpleasant odor in the packaging of some recalled Kellogg’s cereals.

The Battle Creek, MI-based company recalled some 28 million boxes of Froot Loops, Honey Smacks, Apple Jacks, and Corn Pops on June 28 for an “off flavor and smell” from the packaging.

froot-loops-featured.jpgOn Monday, in a statement to Food Safety News, Kellogg’s confirmed the presence of methylnaphthalene in the packaging.  Here’s that statement:

“Kellogg Company has concluded its investigation into the off smells present in the package liners in some of its cereals. Working with external experts in medicine, toxicology, public health, chemistry and food safety, we identified elevated levels of hydrocarbons, including methylnaphthalene, normally found in the paraffin wax and film in the liners.”

Kellogg’s said this specific wax is commonly used as a protective coating for foods including cheese, raw fruits, and vegetables, and is approved by the FDA.

“We have verified that the elevated levels of hydrocarbons are not present at harmful levels. We are working with our supplier to ensure that this situation does not happen again,” the statement continued.

Kellogg’s did not speculate about the source of the odor when it announced the recall.  The Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group named methylnaphthalene Monday as the likely substance giving Kellogg’s a packaging problem.

Dave Andrews, senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, claims the aromatic hydrocarbon has a  history that is “checkered at best.”

“Millions of pounds are produced every year, and this chemical is turning up in the packaging for popular cereals marketed toward children,” Andrews said.  “I think it’s important for federal public health agencies like the EPA and FDA to know everything there is to know about the possible risks this fossil fuel could pose to people’s health.”