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Use of cleaning chemicals in your dairy, bulk milk tanks and processing areas

Use of cleaning chemicals

Please read if you use quaternary ammonium compounds such as BAC (benzalkonium chloride) or DDAC (didecyldimethylammonium chloride) for cleaning of milking equipment, vats, bulk tanks or any other equipment or surfaces that come into contact with your organic milk, or other organic products. Brand names include Detsan, Foamsan, Quatsan.

BAC and DDAC are also referred to as quaternary ammonium compounds or QACs/QUATs and are used in disinfectants and cleaner-sanitisers.

Unfortunately, in the last few months we have received a number of detections of cleaning product residues on organic food, including butter. Such detections can affect whether a product can be sold as organic.

In particular detections of BAC or DDAC have been found, which has been linked to farm use on dairy equipment. These substances are difficult to remove from surfaces, and if not adequately rinsed will result in residues in the organic product. Strong rinsing with hot water is most effective, rather than a cold water rinse.

Action you need to take

To avoid possible contamination you may wish to switch to a different cleaning product that does not contain BAC or DDAC to ensure your products are not at risk of residues. Talk to your cleaning chemical supplier to see what alternatives they can offer that can be effectively rinsed with the facilities you have available.

Alternatively, if you wish to continue using BAC or DDAC, we recommend you take action to validate whether your rinsing procedures are sufficient to remove residues. You could do this by purchasing QAC test strips to test contact surfaces in your dairy, or send a sample of your product to a laboratory for testing.

If our inspectors identify a risk of contamination with BAC or DDAC at inspection they will take samples of the product for analyses.

Please note that Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) also apply to BAC and DDAC, which is 0.1mg/kg. Products with detections over the MRL legally cannot be sold at all, even as non-organic.

Note the above also applies when used on harvesting equipment, in packhouses, food processing units etc.

If you have any questions regarding this please contact your certification officer.