Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved an application from dairy giant Fonterra to use hydrogen peroxide as a processing aid to control lactic acid-producing micro-organisms during the manufacture of certain dairy products.
FSANZ, which is responsible for the development and administration of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, approved the application after “no public health and safety concerns were identified with the use of hydrogen peroxide.”
New Zealand-based Fonterra, which is the world’s largest dairy product exporter, lodged the application in October 2011, seeking approval to extend the use of hydrogen peroxide as a processing aid.
The dairy co-operative, which is owned by its 10,500 dairy farmer suppliers, also proposed a maximum permitted level (MPL) for residual hydrogen peroxide of 5mg/kg in finished products – in line with current FSANZ regulations.
No safety concerns
“Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has assessed an Application made by Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd (Fonterra) to permit the use of hydrogen peroxide as a processing aid to control the population of lactic acid producing micro-organisms, and in so doing, stabilise the pH during the production of dairy products manufactured using lactic acid producing micro-organisms,” said the FSANZ approval document.
“FSANZ assesed the technological suitability of hydrogen peroxide as a food processing aid and its potential risk to public health and safety when used as proposed. FSANZ determined that hydrogen peroxide fulfils its intended technological function i.e. it is effective as a processing aid for controlling the population of lactic acid producing microorganisms during the production of dairy products.”
“No public health and safety concerns were identified with the use of hydrogen peroxide and an MPL of 5mg/kg as proposed,” said the approval document.
Not hygiene alternative
FSANZ added, however, that the substance should not be used as an alternative to hygiene measures.
“There is potential for hydrogen peroxide to be misused during the manufacture of dairy foods such as being used to stabilise deteriorating milk or as an alternative to good hygienic practices,” said the FSANZ report.
“The variation does not permit the use of hydrogen peroxide as a sanitiser (thus replacing good hygiene practice) in the manufacture of these products. Hydrogen peroxide in also not intended to be used to stabilise deteriorating milk.”
The use of hydrogen peroxide in the production of dairy products manufactured using lactic acid producing micro-organisms was until now not permitted by FSANZ.
The substance has previously been permitted for use as a processing aid in a number of industries – including the treatment of packaged water, the removal of glucose from egg products and as a bleaching, washing and peeling agent.