Chlorate and Perchlorate in Beer

Analysis of chlorate and perchlorate in beer

By Gordon Jackson - 12 October 2015

Following our development of a method to simultaneously determine levels of chlorate and perchlorate in food and drink, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has asked us to survey their levels in beer. A recent European Food Safety Authority Opinion has specifically identified a need for more data on chlorate levels for some foods, and the BBPA will use the survey results to respond to this.

The current default residue limit for chlorate is 10 microgram/kg (under Regulation 396/2005). This was set when chlorate was used as a pesticide, but it does not take account of other legal uses of chlorate, for example, as a disinfectant. The Commission has decided on a provisional solution - based on Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 - which requires that food should not be put on the market unless it is safe. The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that there is a need for more data for some foods, and this includes beer. We have developed a method for the analysis of chlorate in beer with a limit of quantification of 10 microgram/litre.

There is currently no EU limit for perchlorate in food or drinking water. However, it occurs naturally in the environment: it can be formed in the atmosphere and precipitate into soil and groundwater and it can also be formed during the degradation of sodium hypochlorite used to disinfect water. Perchlorate has been detected in water at levels up to 2.98 micrograms per litre. It has also been detected in beer at levels up to 10.6 microgram per litre. The European Commission recommended monitoring the presence of perchlorate in food and beverages and requested that the data should be provided to EFSA by February 2016. To assist member companies, we have developed an analysis for perchlorate with a limit of quantification of 10 microgram/litre.

Gordon Jackson
+44(0)1737 824255