The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a favourable opinion concerning the use of a new antimicrobial agent in food contact applications.
Milliken & Company believes that European approval for its product AlphaSan should help it open up a new and lucrative market.
"This certification allows AlphaSan to be used in all food related applications in the European Union and follows similar approvals granted in North and Latin America," said Regina Harper, regulatory affairs manager for Milliken & Company.
"The panel's opinion does not place any restrictions on concentrations of AlphaSan, which provides enhanced flexibility for its use in Europe."
The AlphaSan anti-microbial agent uses advanced silver-based technology to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mildew, mould and other micro-organisms that can cause odours, discolouration and deterioration of various consumer and commercial products.
The product can be used in a wide range of commercial applications including food and beverage processing and commercial icemaking equipment.
Food manufacturers in Europe must now abide by the most stringent of health and safety rules. For example, new regulations on safety, labelling and inspections were adopted by Parliament in March 2004.
This will allow inspectors to make spot checks, and Parliament has swung the balance towards greater transparency so that the public has quicker access to information. The legislation will apply from January 2006.
"EFSA approval, combined with approvals in North and Latin America, is of particular benefit to our global customers headquartered in Europe," said Geoff Haas, global marketing analyst and planner for Milliken.
"Broad regulatory approval, combined with our technical services center in Belgium, allows us to enhance our research, development and testing services in support of AlphaSan applications by our European customers."
Some scientists however have voiced concern that the increasing use of antimicrobial agents in the food industry as a means of controlling food bacteria mutations might lead to resistant 'superbugs' that might pose a danger to public health.
But a report from the US Institute of Food Technologists concluded that that there was no evidence of this. Although there is potential for the emergence of resistant micro-organisms with ever-increasing use of sanitisers, the report said that this should not necessarily lead to public health problems.
The report added that the potential development of antimicrobial resistance by pathogens in food manufacturing could be overcome through the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents, avoidance of sub-lethal concentrations of antimicrobial agents, and the appropriate use of combinations of antimicrobials.
AlphaSan is one a number of products that Milliken has developed. The company serves a broad range of markets through a network of global technical service and application development centers.