Photo: Lance Cheung USDA 2012 / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The European Commission (EC) has lowered the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for two disinfectants used in the food industry, with the new regulation due to enter into force next year. As a result, the fresh produce trade may need to adjust its current usage practices or explore the use of alternative products.

By mid-2015 didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) and benzalkonium chloride (BAC) – quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) used for disinfectant purposes – will be subject to a MRL of 0.1 mg/kg in all foods.

The move follows a lengthy monitoring process since 2012 by both food trade bodies and regulatory authorities in continental Europe, which identified unexpected residues of DDAC and BAC above the set limits at that time. “An exception was results from the U.K. which showed a significant proportion of foods tested with residues at or above 0.1 mg/kg – most significantly in pre-prepared foods, including bagged salads.

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