Industry News: European Food Safety Authority Favors Direct use of PAA on Meats

Control of microbial pathogens on meats and poultry is an important step in ensuring a safe food supply. Various chemicals are used for this purpose including chlorine based compounds (hypochlorites) and in the US peracetic acid (PAA).

Good candidates must effectively destroy the pathogens but leave no hazardous residues on the meat products. Peracetic acid quickly breaks down in the environment, including on that side of beef, find to water, oxygen and acetic acid (the acid found in vinegar).

Peracetic acid is widely used in the US for direct application (intervention) of poultry and meats as well as fresh produce, but its adoption has been more limited in Europe because of concerns about toxicity.

The European Food Safety Authority recently issued the following press release (March 26th 2014):

Using solutions containing peroxyacetic acid (PAA) to reduce contamination from pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat would not pose toxicity concerns, EFSA’s experts say. Some treatment applications are more effective than others, for example dipping in baths is more effective than spraying. EFSA’s experts also conclude that it is unlikely that the use of PAA would lead to the emergence of resistance to antimicrobials and reduced susceptibility to biocides. There are no concerns for environmental risks of all the components of the solution except for HEDP. Its release from a poultry plant into the environment is not always considered safe.

[The only concern was the HEDP (aka 1-hydroxyethylidene-1,1-diphosphonic acid), which is blended with the PAA as a corrosion inhibitor.]

The full report is available.

With the EFSA finding that there are no residual toxicity concerns of using PAA on meats, the meat industry is a step closer to being able to use PAA in European meat processing plants.  When PAA is adopted to improve the safety of the meat supply in Europe  ChemDAQ’s PAA monitor will be available to help employers ensure that PAA can be used safely for both the workers potentially exposed to the vapors as well as the food supply.