Material Safety Data Sheets and the food industry – Why ask for it?

According to Wikipedia a material safety data sheet (MSDS) “is an important component of product stewardship and occupational safety and health. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures. SDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements.”

It is therefore imperative that where a new chemical product (or even an existing one) is being purchased, or even tested, that the supplier of the chemical product be requested to provide a MSDS to enable the end user to make an informed decision, as to whether they are comfortable with what the MSDS contains.

Many chemicals are hazardous and have to be handled in a particular manner should an accidental spillage occur failing which a cleaner could be severely burnt – where a chemical is also highly inflammable and toxic at the same time, special fire fighting equipment (e.g. gas masks) may be required when attempting to put out a fire pending the arrival of professional fire fighters.

Food safety/health practitioners should as a matter of practise ensure that their HACCP/ISO protocols not only call for such documentation to be readily available in the event of a disaster, but that the recommendations contained in the MSDS are stringently adhered to failing which staff and/or patrons could sue the company for any injuries/fatalities that should arise.

Finally ensure that the MSDS has been issued by a credible recognised authority.