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What is a Defra Approved Disinfectant?

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or as it is perhaps better known (DEFRA) is the UK government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was formed in 2001, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was merged with elements of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and the Home Office. Consequently, Defra has a broad remit of responsibilities, many of which impact people’s day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink. Amongst other important functions Defra is responsible for managing the approval of disinfectants under The Diseases of Animals (Approved Disinfectants) (England) Order 2007 No. 448 for the purposes of The Animal Health Act 1981. So, what is a Defra Approved Disinfectant, how does it achieve this status and what does it really mean?

How does a disinfectant become approved for use by Defra?

Inclusion in the Defra approved disinfectant list is a testament to a products performance and evidence that the disinfectant in question passed rigorous efficacy or performance tests.

Before a manufacturer applies to have their disinfectant assessed, decisions must be made about dilution. The company in question will need to determine which dilution or dilutions of their product they want to have tested against the various orders. For Defra approval purposes, there are four specific Animal Disease Orders and one General Orders category. These are:

  1. Foot and Mouth disease (FMDV),
  2. Swine Vesicular disease (SVDV),
  3. Diseases of Poultry Order and Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals Order (DoP, AI&IAOM),
  4. Tuberculosis Order (TB)
  5. General Orders (GO) for approval for use where animal disease control orders exist, other than the four specific animal disease Orders.

There are also several other regulatory and safety criteria that must be met before testing can commence. For example, the applicant company must also ensure their product meets the following Health and Safety Executive (HSE) standards: Chemicals legislation such as Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures Regulation (CLP Regulation); General Products Safety Regulations (GPSR) and advertising requirements in the Biocidal Products Regulations (BPR) 2001. In addition, notifications must also be made to the National Poisons Information Service and the applicant company must also check their liability under the General Industry charge. Failure to tick this ‘safety’ box, or boxes could automatically disqualify a product.

Testing takes place at a Defra approved laboratory, as Defra does not accept third party data / evidence for the purpose of approval. Once the disinfectant has been approved the manufacturer will receive notification and issued with wording specific to their disinfectant to add to the product label.

Where is a DEFRA approved disinfectant required?

The Defra protocol was established to identify disinfectant products to be used in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak under one of the five orders, these being Diseases of General Orders, Poultry Order, Swine Vesicular Disease, Foot and Mouth Disease and TB. If there is an outbreak of a notifiable animal or zoonotic disease, only Defra approved disinfectants listed under the relevant order at the appropriate dilution can be used for disinfecting hard surfaces like buildings, farm equipment, crates, and vehicles.

What is a notifiable disease?

A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. In this instance a notifiable disease is an animal disease that you are legally obliged to report to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), even if you only suspect that an animal may be affected. APHA is an executive agency of Defra, formed in 2014 it merges the former Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) with parts of the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).

Notifiable diseases can be endemic – already present in the UK, such as bovine TB. Or considered exotic – not normally present in the UK, such as foot and mouth disease. Some endemic and exotic diseases are also zoonotic, which means they can pass between animals and humans, such as Avian Influenza or Rabies.

How do you identify Defra approved disinfectants?

To help users identify suitable products Defra publishes a list of approved disinfectants. This list shows users which products are available for use, for which disease and the appropriate dilution. The reason being some products on the approved disinfectant list can be used at different dilutions for different disease orders. You can find the complete list of Defra approved disinfectants on the approved disinfectants list.

What is the General Orders list?

In addition to the 4 specific disease orders there also General Orders (GO) The General Orders list includes Defra approved disinfectants and how they should be used to control an outbreak of notifiable disease not covered by the specific disease orders. For example, Defra could order approved disinfectants to be used to control an outbreak of bluetongue. The General Orders list also includes dilution information to ensure optimal performance, it should be noted just as the specific disease orders disinfectants must be used at the dilution rate shown on the general order list.

Do I need to use a Defra listed disinfectant in kennels, catteries and vets’ surgeries?

Although it may be revered around the world Defra approval is not a general product endorsement. Disinfectant users are free to use a product of their choice and which meets their everyday animal biosecurity needs. There is no legal compulsion to use a Defra approved disinfectant if you run a vet’s surgery, kennel or cattery. That is, unless there is an outbreak of a notifiable animal disease.

Do Defra manage Fish farm disinfectant approval?

For a product to be listed as an approved disinfectant for use on or around fish farms, approval is sought from Cefas. Cefas, is The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is an executive agency of Defra. To find out more visit the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) website

Does a disinfectant have to be Defra approved?

Defra approval is not required to place a disinfectant product on the market, and many commercial opportunities remain for a company marketing a product that is not included in Defra’s list. The use of a Defra approved disinfectant is ONLY required in the event an outbreak of a notifiable disease after all. However, achieving Defra approved status is widely recognised around the world as a sign of a products quality and performance. This is perhaps why the use of a Defra approved disinfectant is required for compliance with farm assurance schemes such as Red Tractor or BEIC. It should also be remembered a manufacturer is breaking the law if they market and sell a disinfectant as Defra approved that has not been tested and listed as approved. That is of course the beauty of the list it is very easy to check!

Does Mirius supply a Defra listed disinfectant?

Yes. In fact, Mirius has a number of products included on the list of disinfectants approved by Defra for use in England, Scotland and Wales. You will find these listed under the name of our parent company, Coventry Chemicals. Included on the list are:

WP20 – (FMDV), (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)
Virucidal WP – (FMDV), (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)
OmniChlor – (FMDV), (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)
Omnicide – (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)
Omnicide FG & FGII – (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)
OmniCox – (SVDV), (DoP, AI&IAOM) & (GO)

If you would like to find out more about the range of Mirius disinfectant products approved for use in England, Scotland and Wales by Defra or learn more about how can Mirius help you please contact: healthcare@mirius.com or call +44 (0)2476 639 739