Food Safety and Protection

How to manage chemicals in your food business

Chemicals are extensively used by the food industry. Due to this, food businesses need to ensure that chemicals are managed so they do not become a source of food contamination. In this post, learn five (5) key areas that you should be implementing within your food business to ensure a safe and suitable food product.

1. Knowledge of your chemicals

It is impossible to manage chemicals in your food business if you do not know what you have, why you have it and what it is used for.  The best way to gain an understanding is to firstly undertake a chemical audit. This will allow you to collect information that you can then build upon. Write down all of the chemicals that are present within you food premises. When you have this list documented you can then seek further information on the what and why.

2. Understand the rules / laws

In the majority of food manufacturing countries around the world, there are rules or laws that regulate what can be used in connection with the manufacture of food. Use the list that you documented in part 1 to find out what laws are applicable to each chemical.

3. Control chemical use

The majority of GFSI recognized standards have a requirement to control chemicals within your food business. This is also a fundamental component of food safety regulations. Ensure that you have control procedures documented and implemented related to the identification, storage, usage (including dilution and concentrations) and disposal of all chemicals.

4. Educate staff

All staff that handle chemicals should be adequately trained. You may also be required to have an actual certified qualification for handling certain types of chemicals.

5. Chemical management paperwork

Records and documents evidence your commitment to safe chemical handling. At a minimum, each chemical that is in use in your food business is to be accompanied by a current material data sheet (MDS). These sheets are useful in identifying the correct handling, storage and emergency spill information.

Hazard Analysis

Both HACCP and FSMA require that potential chemical hazards be identified and assessed to determine their impact on the food that you produce. When you complete this process, make sure that you consider all chemicals within your food business. This includes chemicals used during cleaning, pest control, maintenance and food production. Examples of food production chemicals can include preservatives, colours, flavours and water chlorination.

A word on allergens

Keep in mind that the chemicals you use in your food business may also be a source of allergens.  One the most common sources are machinery lubricants. Check the ingredient label and/or the data sheet of the chemical to identify allergenic materials. You can also contact the manufacture to confirm the allergen status.

Share your chemical use

Help to increase the knowledge of the HACCP Mentor community by sharing your thoughts and knowledge on how you manage chemicals within your food business.


8 thoughts on “How to manage chemicals in your food business”

  1. As the Safety Coordinator it is my task to obtain current SDS sheets to remain in compliance with OSHA and BRC requirements. My question is – Since OSHA does not require an SDS for products used in the manner for which they are manufactured if they have no hazards associated with this correct usage, does the same apply to BRC – or if the chemical will never be used in the food production process, such as WD-40 used in the plant, but not on the line? Our SDS book stands 10 inches high and contains an SDS for EVERY item in the plant. An SDS for each color of paint used, I kid you not. Please direct me to a BRC Standard that may clarify what SDSs should be available.

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      Hi Quanna,

      Global Standard Food Safety (BRC) Issue 7, 4.9.1 Chemical Control (Clause states that “Processes shall be in place to manage the use, storage and handling of non-food chemicals to prevent chemical contamination. These shall include as a minimum”: availability of material safety data sheets and specifications.

      To answer your question, from the above BRC clause, you would need as MSDS / SDS for all chemicals.

  2. Hi all at HACCP Mentor,

    CO2 or Carbon dioxide is used in various industries and other sectors such as: Chemical industry, Pharmaceutical industry, Food and carbonated beverages, Desalination of sea water, Health, Metal industry, Laboratories and analyzes, Electronics and Environment.

    Depending on the process by which it is extracted, it may retain chemical residues which at certain levels may be toxic or organoleptic alteration of the product.
    The limit values ??for these chemical residues are laid down by law, regional regulations, codex alimentarius, or groups of professional corporations (ex ISBT: International Society of Beverage Technologists).
    In Algeria, CO2 is largely obtained by burning natural gas. The technological processes used make it possible to obtain a CO2 purity of 99% to 99.95%.
    Some examples of requirements (ISBT) for the beverage sector:
    – Purity: 99,9% min
    – Moisture : 20 ppm Max
    – Oxygen: 30 ppm Max
    – CO: 10 ppm Max
    – NO / NO2: 2.5 ppm Max
    – Total BTX: 50 ppm Max
    – Acetaldehyde: 0.2 ppm Max

    Some industrial gas companies are equipped with on-line analyzers and allow you to instantly supply the analysis bulletin of your delivery.
    So if you are a user and concerned about the safety of your product, especially if you are ISO 22000 certified, FSSC 22000, BRC, IFS, REQUIRE IT!

  3. Hello , Thanks to Sally and the author.

    There should be a lock and key for the chemical used in the premises means to be kept in a room designated. . The responsibility is very important.. he cleaning chemicals, Process chemicals , lab chemicals all should be separately handled . MSDS is a must and to be visible to all whoa re concerned to the area . The disposal of the containers of the chemicals are also important which should have a written procedure

  4. Hi all at the HACCP Mentor,

    At Brand, all our chemicals came in all ready diluted to emlimate the risk of mixing incorrectly, it came in clearly labelled machine sanitatiser and hand sanitatiser, kept locked away! Allergen controls where in place, and instant swabbing of all areas of Machine cleaned with this Machine sanitatiser, to declare it save to come in to contact with food. We had a special drain to dispose, of this machine sanitatiser, all records where kept of machine sanitatiser when used! Swabbing results where also recorded.

    1. Thanks for sharing Sally. Your company is making use of some really easy initiatives that everyone can implement.

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