- 24 Sep
Innovating to address the MRL crisis
The business environment around antimicrobials remains in a high state of flux driven by many of the Regulatory changes driven by the EU Commission and national governments.
As previously discussed in this blog, an amendment to legislation was due for implementation relating to the use of two key biocides in food hygiene and their use on food contact surfaces. Quaternary Ammonium compounds (QAC), specifically Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC) and Didecyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride (DDQ), are exceptional biocides which have been used across many industries over more than 50 years. They are inexpensive and particularly efficacious against many of the gram +ve and gram –ve bacteria which can cause problems for the Food sector.
In spite of the UK HSE lobbying, they were unable to overturn a ruling capturing QACs within their alternative use as a Pesticide, and therefore a Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for their use on Food has been in place for some time. The planned further reduction of this MRL from 0.5mg/Kg to 0.1mg/Kg went ahead on 12th August 2015.
This decision has meant that in spite of the important role QACs play in the management of food contact pathogens such as Listeria, and E. coli, their use on food contact surfaces will need to be carefully controlled and in some cases replaced to comply with this legislation.
The need to reduce the use of QACs in surface disinfection products used in the food industry is of course having a sizable impact on the antimicrobials industry, resulting in formulators and suppliers of wipes and liquids changing the nature of their biocidal solutions to avoid using QACs. This is further hampered by the reduction across the board of biocidal actives which continue to be supported for various uses (Product Types) as we move towards Biocidal Product Regulations (BPR). A reduction from 750 to 250 biocides is a figure typically quoted. The disruption as well as the cost of reformulating and testing is quite significant, while the most regrettable feature is many of the alternatives will cost more and potentially be less efficacious than the QACs they replace.
Like many of its competitors, Byotrol has been aware of the new requirements, and irrespective of opinion, the need to work within it. Whilst alternative solutions to the problem have been bandied about, such as washing off QAC-based products after use, thereby resulting in little opportunity for ongoing protection and the introduction of more water into food processing plants (the very thing the UK Food industry has worked so hard to remove), Byotrol’s formulators turned to innovation. They set themselves the target to both develop a QAC-free system for customers who find QAC-based products are no longer an option and the added challenge – it must also deliver Byotrol’s trademark residual protection. Last week, Byotrol launched this new technology – Byotrol QFS – QAC-Free System – to the Food industry.
Byotrol QFS technology is efficacious against food pathogens, having been extensively tested in Byotrol laboratories and externally validated as part of the M&S Terminal Disinfectant Approval protocol, and continues to provide the long-lasting protection Byotrol is known for – giving added security against food pathogen contamination.
One month on from the new MRL being set, Byotrol, like many in industry, wait to see the consequences of this new legislation on the cleanliness of the factory environment, the likely increase in the risk of food contamination and the almost certain rises in the cost of food as food producers struggle to take on the cost of this legislation alone. Whatever the future holds, innovation and working in partnership with industry will continue to deliver solutions for these ongoing regulatory challenges.
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