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 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.
EU have set new Maximum Residue Level (MRL) values for chlorate in food (EU Regulation 2020/749). This will come into force on 24th June 2020. Previously, no specific MRLs set for chlorate. Fera have the expertise to address all requirements of this Regulation.
Food industry is faced with a difficult challenge of balancing risk of chlorate residues and microbiological risk while waiting for the outcome of on-going discussions at EU to set MRLs which are set at realistic levels likely to arise from responsible use of disinfectants during food processing.
Standard Turnaround Time
|10 working days|
LOD (limit of detection)
|0.01 - 0.05 mg/kg|
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