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Dairy Facts 2016

APHIS Sides with Industry on Citric Acid Exemption

Apr 11, 2012

IDFA wrote in January to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to convey support for USDA's ongoing efforts to mitigate the effects of potential foreign animal disease outbreaks, such as food-and-mouth disease. IDFA encouraged the agency to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to allow citric acid to be used as a disinfectant in the event of an FMD outbreak.

Just last week, APHIS responded, saying it plans to ask EPA to allow the use of citric acid as a disinfectant for FMD virus in emergency situations and welcomes the opportunity to work with industry partners, including IDFA, to provide EPA with supporting information.

Effective and Readily Available

Citric acid is a food-grade product that is readily available and has been used effectively against FMD in other countries. Recent research from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York, which works to protect animals and the nation's food supply, has reaffirmed citric acid's effectiveness.

The dairy industry is concerned that the number of disinfectants available and approved by EPA for FMD is limited, and rapid and ready access would be critical during an outbreak. IDFA collaborated with the National Milk Producers Federation about the need for additional disinfectants and sent separate letters to USDA asking for the exemption.

"FMD is a significant potential risk to the dairy industry. It could happen accidentally or be introduced intentionally, and the impact could be catastrophic," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. "Although we've been effective at preventing an outbreak, it's better to go through the process for citric acid now rather than to wait until there is a need."

FMD is an animal disease; it is not a human health threat and does not affect food safety.  

For more information, contact Detlefsen at

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