As reported in the CFA’s recent newsletters (winter 2015 and spring 2016) two technical reviews into the use of biocides are impacting on the availability of the effective disinfectants vital to assure food hygiene through the food chain.
In response to the reviews CFA is leading the industry group which is developing guidance on the use of biocides in cleaning and disinfection, and leading lobbying at UK and with the EC.
Read press coverage of the story in Food Manufacture.
Biocides in disinfectants and sanitisers are used routinely both in food production and in the home to prevent microbiological contamination of our food. They are used throughout the supply chain and are very important in the production of high quality safe food, contributing to food safety assurance and helping to protect the consumer. Concerns have been expressed repeatedly in UK official reports that clear guidance on cleaning and disinfection needs to be made available to enforcers and smaller businesses to ensure that it is being carried out properly.
The European Commission is proposing regulating the traces of such compounds in foodstuffs. The presence of a trace of biocide does not indicate that there is any risk to human health. The positive benefits of using biocides to prevent microbiological contamination needs to be balanced with the need to set practical levels.
Biocides essential to maintain food hygiene standards
Food poisoning outbreaks are rare in the UK. The UK food industry places an absolute priority on food safety. Good Agricultural Practices, hygienic preparation and packaging minimise the potential for contamination, and the use of biocides and cleaning agents play an essential role in maintaining high standards of food hygiene.
The UK food industry, led by CFA, has stressed to both UK authorities and the European Commission the need to maintain an adequate range of effective biocides and cleaning agents in order not to compromise food safety through increased microbiological risk.
The safety and quality of food is paramount to the industry which is working with the UK authorities and participate in discussions with the European Commission to ensure that food safety remains the key driver for any recommendations to set Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).
Good practice for use of biocides
The positions of the food and hygiene industries on the issue are aligned, including at EU level. The main aim is now for the EC to recognise that it is not appropriate to apply MRLs as biocides used for disinfection (of water and equipment etc) are not being used as Plant Protection Products (i.e. pesticides).
Good practice approaches to the use of biocides for cleaning and disinfection are set out in the new UK Food and Biocides Industry Group guidance, which CFA leads.
10 March 2016. Updated 6 April 2016.