Peroxyacetic acid rinsing of poultry meat - BEUC position paper published

BEUC has just published its position paper on the use of peroxyacetic acid (PAA) rinses of poultry meat.

This chemical wash - presented as an “extra safety net” against bacteria on poultry meat - is currently banned in the EU. However, pressure from the United States might reverse the trend.

Beside the fact that consumers across the board disapprove of eating chicken washed with chemicals1, BEUC insists that approval of such treatments would open the door to lower hygiene standards on farms and in slaughterhouses.

While the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not identified any major food toxicity concerns, it does not fully exclude the risk of generating bacterial resistance as a result of PAA use. The efficacy of PAA washes is also unconvincing based on the evidence submitted to EFSA.

BEUC has developed a series of recommendations for decision-makers on meat washes. As an appetizer, here are some of the key points of our position paper:

  • In the EU, the ‘farm to fork’ approach aims to ensure meat safety at all production stages.
  • In the US, chemical decontamination of meat in the abattoir is the common practice.
  • If good hygiene practices are applied across the chain, end-of-pipe treatments are not needed.
  • Stricter enforcement of current rules should be favoured over techniques consumers reject.
  • Poultry abattoir staff could run more risk of respiratory problems.
  • Studies from the UK, Finland and Denmark match: most consumers have no appetite for chicken washed in chemicals.
  • EFSA recognises public health value of early pathogens prevention over controls only later in the food chain.
  • EU law says chemical meat washes, if at all approved, shall by no means substitute for proper slaughter hygiene.
  • Poor hygiene performers can learn from better performing poultry plants through best practice exchange.

Our full position is here. If you want to know more about how PAA is linked to the TTIP trade talks between the EU and the US, check our blog post.

 

  1. Which? online survey of 1,406 UK adults (aged 16+) conducted between 10-14Feb 2011 showed that 60% of respondents were unlikely to buy chicken that had been sprayed or washed with a mild acid such as lactic acid. 67% were unlikely to buy chicken that had been treated with chlorine.