The current information requirements regarding cleaning products containing microorganisms is not sufficient to conduct health and environmental risk assessments of such products. That is the main conclusion in a report conducted by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM). The Norwegian Environment Agency has requested the report.
Cleaning products with bacteria or other microorganisms as active ingredients are becoming more common. There are currently no uniform, international regulations governing the production and use of such products.
The declaration form
According to the Norwegian regulation on the declaration and labelling of microorganisms, importers, manufacturers as well as distributors of microbiological products in Norway are required to label and declare products in the Product registry employing a separate declaration form.
The Norwegian Environment Agency uses the information obtained to assess the health and environmental risks of such products, should they be applied.
Limited information today
VKM concludes that the current information requirements in the declaration form is not sufficient to be able to carry out health and environmental risk assessments. VKM recommends revising the requirements.
More precise descriptions of the products are required to be able to conduct meaningful risk assessments, among others.
VKM also points out that today's requirements lacks emphasis on the environmental impact posed by foreign organisms. In particular, the potential spread of microorganisms in terrestrial or aquatic environments and the subsequent long-term effects.
Additionally, today's requirements do not lay emphasis on the potential of foreign organisms to inflict disease on animals and plants.
Scope of usage and precautions
VKM is of the opinion that the declaration should contain information about the scope of usage and instructions for use where it is necessary to take special precautions.
Furthermore, the declaration should contain information relating to user groups. For example, if the product can be used in production facilities for food, facilities for vulnerable groups (immunocompromised, children, the elderly, pregnant women, etc.) or production animals.
About the assignment
The Norwegian Environment Agency requested the Norwegian Scientific Committee of Food Safety (VKM) to evaluate whether the current requirements for information regarding microbiological cleaning products is sufficient to conduct health and environmental risk assessments of such products.
If the current requirements are insufficient, VKM was asked to provide what requirements should apply.
VKMs panel for microbial ecology has been responsible for this work.