Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation
Photo
- - - - -

Is asbestos in walls a food safety hazard?

foreign material asbestos food safety hazard

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 Suzie B

Suzie B

    Grade - AIFSQN

  • Newbie
  • 42 posts
  • 5 thanks
5
Neutral

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Female

Posted 25 April 2015 - 02:30 AM

Hello All,

I need some help. I have read the SQF Code thoroughly, but I can't find any reference to asbestos. My refrigerated storage facility is old, and there is asbestos in the walls. There is no likelihood of the asbestos breaking loose from the wall or getting into the product as it comes to us bagged, boxed, wrapped, etc. We are scheduled for an abatement soon. Can anyone tell me if the asbestos in the walls is a food safety hazard? Is our product in any way in jeopardy?


  • 0

#2 xylough

xylough

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 146 posts
  • 103 thanks
21
Excellent

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:SanFrancisco Bay Area (Oakland, Lake Merritt)
  • Interests:"Foodie" stuff, dogs, family, horticulture, natural sciences

Posted 25 April 2015 - 03:48 PM

SuzieQ,

 

Asbestos is a hazard to human health when airborne and it is inhaled into the lungs. As with any construction, demolition, remodel project, etc., all precaution should be taken to sequester and otherwise protect food, ingredients and packaging from contamination. The hazard would not be due to the unique properties of asbestos so much as to the disruptive nature of an abatement project. I would be asking myself how the project as a whole might affect your operation. My understanding is that an asbestos abatement is highly prescribed with exacting protocols for the protection of the workers performing the abatement and any other people and air systems in proximity. It could be extremely disruptive to your processes. I should think you need to have a well considered plan of action.

 

kind regards


  • 0

Thanked by 1 Member:

#3 Suzie B

Suzie B

    Grade - AIFSQN

  • Newbie
  • 42 posts
  • 5 thanks
5
Neutral

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Female

Posted 26 April 2015 - 02:07 AM

Thank you.  Yes, we intend to empty the room during the abatement.  The question I am trying to answer is whether the asbestos presents a hazard to the food products that are stored in the cooler room.  All products are the property of our customer and come to us bagged, boxed, wrapped, etc.  There is extremely low possibility of any type of adulteration. The abatement is scheduled as a safety precaution for human health.  The question regarding food safety has been raised as a result of the planning.  I have found nothing that mentions asbestos directly.   I say there is no concern as the situation currently exists.  The only concern is during the abatement, and the room will be empty.  I'm looking for verification that my assessment is correct.


  • 0

#4 Charles.C

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 12,462 posts
  • 3247 thanks
347
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 27 April 2015 - 02:42 AM

Thank you.  Yes, we intend to empty the room during the abatement.  The question I am trying to answer is whether the asbestos presents a hazard to the food products that are stored in the cooler room.  All products are the property of our customer and come to us bagged, boxed, wrapped, etc.  There is extremely low possibility of any type of adulteration. The abatement is scheduled as a safety precaution for human health.  The question regarding food safety has been raised as a result of the planning.  I have found nothing that mentions asbestos directly.   I say there is no concern as the situation currently exists.  The only concern is during the abatement, and the room will be empty.  I'm looking for verification that my assessment is correct.

 

Hi Suzie,

 

Yr query has a wide scope and (I suspect) is technically not simple even to an asbestos expert which i am not. :smile:

I am also rather unsure as to the specific meaning of “abatement” as it applies to this project.

 

The answer as usual for RAs is going to be multi-faceted. A brief literature appraisal of some of the “food” related  aspects  is given below but personally I recommend you get an an expert opinion.

 

Factors related are such as –

 

(1) Potential risk that food in the cooler could be (has been ?) cross-contaminated by asbestos fibres, eg via direct contact or airborne. Plus other food related to the envisaged "abatement" of course.

(2) Is the presence of asbestos (fibres?)  in foods considered to be a potential food hazard ?

 

(1) requires a risk assessment specific to yr  situation.

(eg nature of product/condition of room/asbestos fibre level in air/air flows/etc)

 

(2) Excluding the typical haccp caveats such as target consumer etc, a general  definitive conclusion still seems lacking for whether ingestion of asbestos fibres is a significant BCP hazard in foods.

AFAIK, an inhalation pathway is long-established as a (long-term) carcinogenic hazard. In contrast, an ingestion pathway appears discounted in the majority of refs for drinking water but also see refs like (a1,1987), (a2,2003), (d,2013) below for “food”. Reservations over lack of data, interpretation, etc, are common. Some (current) specific warnings also exist (eg refs(c,c1) below).

 

Some opinions for drinking water/food are illustrated in these  links/attachments  –

 

(a)

In 1989, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos; uses established before this date are still allowed. The EPA has established regulations that require school systems to inspect for damaged asbestos and to eliminate or reduce the exposure by removing the asbestos or by covering it up. The EPA has set a limit of 7 million fibers per liter (MFL) as the concentration of long asbestos fibers that may be present in drinking water.

 

http://dhhs.ne.gov/p...stos_index.aspx

Attached File  asb1 - asbestos facts heet questions.pdf   36.88KB   9 downloads

(sorry for typo - "heet" should be "sheet")

 

(a1) Attached File  asb3 - Carcinogenic risks associated with INGESTION of asbestos (1987).pdf   3.16MB   15 downloads

(detailed review up to 1987)

 

(a2)

The asbestos content of solid foodstuffs has not been well studied because of the lack of a simple, reliable analytical method. Foods that contain soil particles, dust, or dirt probably contain asbestos fibres; crude estimates suggest that the intake of asbestos in food may be significant in comparison with that in drinking-water (12). Concentrations of 0.151 MFL and 4.3–6.6 MFL in beer and 1.7–12.2 MFL in soft drinks have been reported (13)

 

Attached File  asb4 - WHO (2003) asbestos in drinking water.pdf   191.63KB   9 downloads

(b)

Should I be concerned about asbestos in my drinking-water?

No. While studies have clearly shown that asbestos poses a serious health risk when it is dry and inhaled, there is very little evidence to show that asbestos fibres will cause any harm when they are wet and swallowed.

 

Attached File  asb2 - Asbestos in Drinking Water, W.Australia Pub.Health (2010).pdf   87.27KB   10 downloads

 

© http://www.mesotheli...asbestos-fiber/

(no data given)

 

(c1)

We know now what they did not know then... that there are a number of potentially fatal diseases related to inhalation of asbestos fibers including mesothelioma, asbestosis, interstitial fibrosis, pneumoconiosis and lung cancer.   Though the connection is less strong, many physicians believe that cancers of the digestive system and other organs may be related to the ingestion of asbestos through contaminated food and water supplies.  Because the onset of these diseases can take up to 30 years, their connection to asbestos inhalation was painfully slow in coming.

 

http://www.naturalha...nfasbestos.html

(no data given)

 

(d)

Specification for food grade talc should limit the content of asbestos fibers even though the potential hazard of ingested asbestos fibers (even though the potential hazard of ingested asbestos) (typo?) is not clearly established.

 

http://www.fda.gov/F...S/ucm261481.htm

(2013 updated)

 

(e)

So whilst the changes under the new Regulations are relatively limited and HSE is expecting there to be a degree of non-compliance, HSE still cites asbestos as being the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and enforcement activity remains high.  To avoid potential large fines and criminal convictions, employers should ensure that all work involving asbestos is done safely and in compliance with the law

 

.

http://www.eversheds...o_be_introduced

(2012)

 

(f)

Attached File  asbestos.png   121.42KB   0 downloads

Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens (2012)

(g)

Insulation

Insulation materials available do not meet the requirements for walls and ceilings in a food facility and are easily punctured or torn. Thus, insulation, where used, should be installed so that it is not exposed and is sealed off from food processing and handling areas. The type of insulation material used must also be considered. The insulation material should be:

nontoxic;

odorless;

unattractive to pests; and non-contaminating.

With these criteria in mind, asbestos insulation is avoided. Fiberglass batting insulation should also be avoided as it attracts insects and rodents, and the fibers may become airborne causing a contamination hazard. Acceptable materials may include: Styrofoam panels, foam glass, and urethane. For special applications requiring insulation of equipment (e.g., steam piping), it is recommended that manufacturers supply documentation of acceptance of the material in food applications

 

.

Attached File  asb5 - sanitary design-construction food processing facilities,2014,.pdf   223.17KB   14 downloads


  • 1

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Thanked by 3 Members:




Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: foreign material, asbestos, food safety hazard

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users