Chlorate is formed as a by-product when using chlorine, chlorine dioxide or hypochlorite for the disinfection of drinking water, water for food production and surfaces coming into contact with food.
Such disinfection is considered to be an essential tool in the armoury for maintaining a high standard of food safety and providing risk mitigation. The risk of microbiological contamination in processed foodstuff has been highlighted during a recent outbreak of e-coli in Cheese. Chlorate residues (unlike pesticide residues) typically arise post-harvest through food processing and local contamination. Recent reports have highlighted that residues of chlorate are finding their way onto our foods through the use of biocides to wash down and disinfect surfaces and food processing equipment coming into contact with food. The risk of chlorate residues and the risk of microbiological contamination have resulted in an increased and conflicting pressure on food industry to manage these risks.
Chlorate has in the past been treated as a pesticide residue rather than a food contaminant and there is now mounting pressure from industry to make this distinction. Due to the rising health risks that chlorate posed to public safety in the food chain and the wider environment, chlorate was banned during 2010 from being used as a weed killer and herbicide to remove unwanted vegetation from public places. Well documented evidence has proven that chlorate reversibly inhibits the absorption of iodide in the thyroid. With particular focus on vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women or people, chlorate digestion at high doses can affect thyroid dysfunction or iodine deficiency as well as the potential to also damage red blood cells such as the formation of methaemoglobin and hemolysis. So currently the default Maximum Residue Level (MRL) that applies to all plant protection products where no other maximum level has been set is 0.01 milligram per kilogram and this includes chlorate. There are on-going discussions at EU aimed at setting more realistic MRLs.
|apples & pears||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and grapes||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|oranges, lemons, limes, melons and watermelons||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|beetroot, carrot, parsnip, potato and swede||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|broad beans, peas, courgettes and cucumber||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|fresh herbs and celery||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|milk (on-farm and retail)||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
|infant food||IC-MS/MS||10 working days|
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Consultancy - if you have questions about chlorate or perchlorate analytical development, market acceptance, the regulatory environment, sometimes it requires another experienced person or team to help pull things together and move them ahead. Fera's consultancy service is made up of senior scientists who have broad and deep experience in the food & chemical industries that we can bring to bear on your research project which goes beyond analysis and scientific expertise.
A limited number of foods have been tested for chlorate for the first time in 2016, to provide evidence that it is necessary to review the existing default MRL in order to take account of non-pesticide sources. The pesticide sodium chlorate is a residual broad action weed killer, which is not authorised for use in the EU. Far more likely sources in food are from chlorine-based treatments of drinking and irrigation water as well as chlorine-based surface disinfectants, which are widely used to ensure microbiological safety. This reports highlights with HSE and the FSA that the current MRL needs to take account of these often essential and unavoidable sources.Pesticide Residues Monitoring Programme for Quarter 1 2016
PRiF provides independent advice to the government on the monitoring of pesticide residues in food working closely with the Chemicals Regulation Directorate and the Food Standards Agency, to provide independent advice to the Health and Safety Executive and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and UK Ministers.
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