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FSA appeal for views on beef treated by lactic acid and shellfish biotoxin study

By Joe Whitworth , 15-Mar-2012
Last updated on 15-Mar-2012 at 12:49 GMT

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is seeking opinions on the use of lactic acid in beef carcases and research into emerging shellfish biotoxins.

The FSA aim to gauge industries stance on the use of lactic acid to reduce microbiological surface contamination in beef and provide evidence to support testing regimes monitoring live bivalve mollusic (shellfish) bioxtoxins.

The use of lactic acid in meat processing is currently not allowed by the EU but a draft European Commission (EC) proposal may see it authorised next month.

The FSA are giving businesses in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland an opportunity to input their opinion on its possible use.

Adoption impact

The consultation aims to measure the potential impact and clarify if businesses would like it approved, what the potential cost could be and if any additional staff training would be required.

The appeal for information follows the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) analysing a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) document regarding the use of lactic acid and finding the process “was of no safety concern”.

A report on the draft proposal was considered at a FSA meeting in January, where recommendations to support the proposed use of lactic acid as a decontamination treatment in beef were made “in principle”.

The report also highlighted the use of lactic acid being a possible intervention to reduce foodborne pathogens, based on HACCP principles.

Marine biotoxins

Meanwhile, FSA Scotland is calling for evidence to support a marine biotoxins testing programme in live bivalve mollusc (shellfish) in UK waters.

It aims to improve hygiene standards and reduce cases of toxin-related illness from consumption of contaminated shellfish.

Emerging marine bioxtoxins are produced by certain types of marine algae (phytoplankton) and accumulate in the tissues of filter feeding bivalve molluscs.

The research aims to collate and review available evidence on emerging shellfish biotoxins and testing regimes worldwide.

EFSA’s panel on the contaminants in the food chain (CONTAM) has previously showed exposure to some marine biotoxins at levels considered safe could cause health problems.

Researchers will need to consider EFSA’s opinions on algal toxins and more recent evidence, including method development for both biological and chemical assays, said the FSA.

Responses on the proposed use of lactic acid are required by 30 March, while the marine bioxtoxins research applications close 26 April.

Click HERE and follow the relevant country link for more information on the use of lactic acid in beef carcass.

Click HERE for more information on the emerging shellfish biotoxins study.

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