What exactly is peracetic acid (PAA)? PAA is a disinfectant used in the food industry as a safe and effective antimicrobial. In food processing, PAA is applied to food products in various methods by distributing a diluted solution of PAA onto the surface of the food. 

USPOULTRY offers a narrated PAA general awareness training video that was developed to inform the poultry industry workforce on the general uses of this widely used chemical, as well as the general precautions associated with the chemical to aid in producing safe and wholesome poultry products. The video provides employees with information on the safe use of PAA. This includes labeling containers used to store the chemical, ranging from totes to tanks and even small plastic containers. Information on how to read the safety data sheet for the chemical and chemical signage is also provided, as well as methods to ensure there is a good understanding of the ways PAA is used and why safety continues to be necessary at each stage of its use in the plant. A supervisor can explain in more detail how the chemical is delivered to the plant and how it is stored, diluted, and sent for use in processing areas.

The video also provides knowledge on health exposures associated with PAA. Although PPA is not corrosive to stainless steel, it is incompatible with heavy metals and some oxidizing chemicals. PAA may irritate some workers’ skin and eyes. Depending on the concentration of PAA in the air, breathing in PAA may irritate the nose and throat. The video stresses the importance of communication with supervision if they are experiencing any of these symptoms or have questions about their exposure to this chemical.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for those working in areas with potential exposure to PAA should be provided by a supervisor or safety and health manager. The PPE might include gloves, goggles, a face shield, or a respirator if necessary. The selection of PPE provided is based on assessments conducted by the company for workers who jobs are in areas of PAA use. Information on what type of PPE is appropriate can also be determined by reading the product safety data sheet. 

The diluted PAA, used to sanitize poultry products during the processing steps, safely flows with the process wastewater effluent to an on-site wastewater treatment facility or a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Training on the proper response, cleanup, and handling methods will be provided by a supervisor if a PAA leak should occur.

USPOULTRY offers this narrated PAA general awareness training video free of charge to USPOULTRY members through USPOULTRY’s Learning Management System. The video is available multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Burmese, and Karen.

Matt Spencer is director of human resources and safety programs for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.