In the food industry, chemicals are routinely used to sanitize and disinfect product contact surfaces. These chemicals provide a necessary and required step to ensure that the foods produced and consumed are as free as possible from microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness.
Regulation No 396/20051 & Regulation No 528/20122
In Europe, disinfectants used in the food industry are controlled by 2 regulations.
Regulation No 396/20051 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin governs the use of pesticide residues. All pesticides have a maximum residue level set by this legislation.
Regulation No 528/20122, concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products, governs the use of biocides for the purpose of disinfection in the food hygiene sector.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
Quaternary ammonium (QACs) compounds are complex. In general, QACs are effective against a wide range of microbes, although the spore phase is unaffected. QACs also can function as detergents when present in high concentration because the compounds possess both hydrophilic and lipophilic chemical groups. QACs are usually odorless, nonstaining, noncorrosive and relatively nontoxic to users.
Residue level in foodstuff
In Europe, QACs are unique in that they are used both as pesticides and disinfectants. However, following potential misuse of QAC-based pesticides in foodstuffs, which resulted in unacceptably high residues, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) were asked to provide a reasoned opinion as to whether the residue level of 0.5 mg/kg could be lowered to 0.1 mg/kg. Voted last June, food manufacturers had 9 month to comply with the new level. Impacted food products include fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables, oilseeds, cereals, teas, coffee, cocoa, spices, sugar, products of animal origin and crops exclusively used for animal feed.
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