On September 5, 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a report evaluating monitoring data of residues of didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC, CAS 7173-51-5) and benzalkonium chloride (BAC, CAS 68424-85-1), two pesticides also used as food contact substances in Europe and the U.S.. The evaluation was compiled in response to an ad-hoc request by the European Commission and reports levels above the maximum residue level (MRL) of 0.01 mg/kg set for DDAC and BACs. DDAC is authorized as plant protection product and BACs are authorized as food and feed area disinfectants. In Europe, DDAC is further used in food contact materials and listed in Annex 1 of the ESCO Working Group list for paper and board. BACs are not authorized or listed for food contact use. However, in the U.S., both DDAC and BACs are authorized as an indirect food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used as a food contact sanitizers in food packaging.
According to the report, 304 of a total of 5472 food samples collected between November 2012 and April 2013 had measurable residues of DDAC and/or BACs. Milk products were the most contaminated product group with 90 of 239 detections. DDAC was detected in 191 of the samples and BACs n=10-16 (BACs 10-16) were detected in 140 samples. With a mean level of 3.64 mg/kg, animal products were found to be most highly contaminated with DDAC. The highest mean value of BACs 10-16 was found in fruit and nuts (14.4 mg/kg). EFSA’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) considers that setting an enforcement level of 0.5 mg/kg for DDAC and BACs would be appropriate.