Using solutions containing peroxyacetic acid (PAA) to reduce contamination from pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat would not pose toxicity concerns, concluded the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in a scientific opinion. EFSA issued the Scientific Opinion on PAA in response to a request from the European Commission based on an application dossier submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the approval of PAA solutions intended to be used by food companies during processing for the reduction of pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat.
EFSA was requested to evaluate an aqueous PAA solution for the reduction of pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat, for (1) its toxicological safety; (2) its efficacy; (3) the potential emergence of reduced susceptibility to biocides and/or resistance to therapeutic antimicrobials linked to its use; and (4) the risk related to the release of the processing plant effluents into the environment. In addition to PAA as the active ingredient, the solution contains acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and 1-hydroxyethylidene-1,1-diphosphonic acid (HEDP), as a product stabilizer. In some mixtures, octanoic acid is added as a surfactant.
Concerning the efficacy, EFSA found consistent evidence of an impact of PAA treatment on E. coli and coliforms when treating warm carcasses by dipping. Although, the Authority noted that spraying of warm carcasses appeared to be less effective than dipping in reducing indicator organisms. Conversely, there was consistent evidence for a relevant reduction of indicator organisms and pathogens when treating chilled carcasses or parts by dipping.
In the opinion, EFSA's experts concluded that it is unlikely that the use of PAA would lead to the emergence of resistance to antimicrobials and reduced susceptibility to biocides. EFSA also found no concerns for environmental risks from all of the components in the solution except for HEDP. Therefore, EFSA recommended that HACCP plans should include monitoring the concentration of HEDP in PAA solutions in order to control residues of HEDP on poultry carcasses. The Authority also suggested conducting laboratory studies to confirm that reduced susceptibility to biocides and/or resistance to antimicrobials following the use of PAA does not occur. Finally, EFSA recommended examining treated carcasses at the end of shelf life, to ensure that the level of contamination remains low.