3-Monochloro-1,2-propanediol (3-MCPD) is a contaminant in processed food well known for about 30 years. More recently, this compound has observed attendance due to its occurrence as fatty acid esters in edible oils and products derived from them. In this study, the first enzymatic approach to remove 3-MCPD and its esters from aqueous and biphasic systems by converting it into glycerol is described. First, 3-MCPD was converted in an aqueous system by an enzyme cascade consisting of a halohydrin dehalogenase from Arthrobacter sp. AD2 and an epoxide hydrolase from Agrobacterium radiobacter AD1 with complete conversion to glycerol. Next, it could also be shown, that the corresponding oleic acid monoester of 3-monochloropropanediol-1-monooleic-ester (3-MCPD-ester) was converted in a biphasic system in the presence of an edible oil by Candida antarctica lipase A to yield free 3-MCPD and the corresponding fatty acid. Hence, also 3-MCPD-esters can be converted by an enzyme cascade into the harmless product glycerol.
Practical applications: Since several reports have been recently published on the contamination of foods with 3-MCPD and its fatty acid esters, there is a great demand to remove these compounds and an urgency to find useful methods for this. In this contribution, we present an easy enzymatic way to remove 3-MCPD and its esters from the reaction media (i.e., plant oil) by converting it to the nontoxic glycerol. The method requires neither high temperature nor organic solvents.