Ethylene oxide has been making the news recently. Here are the top 5 facts to know to get up to speed:

  1. Use Case

    • Ethylene oxide is commonly used as a fumigant in food in many parts of the world; however, it is banned in Europe. It is also widely used in the chemical industry to sterilize materials and instruments used in surgery and medical devices.
    • Ethylene oxide is one of the most widely produced chemicals worldwide; however, only 0.05% of the global EO production is used for fumigation purposes including the sterilization of medical equipment.
    • It shows strong antibacterial properties, by diffusing quite easily and by interacting with the DNA and the proteins. For this reason, it is widely used as a fumigant in storage facilities and also on foodstuffs in countries like India, as it is very effective in disinfestation or disinfection.
  2. Reaction with Food

    • Ethylene oxide rapidly disappears from food through evaporation or chemical reactions.
    • If Ethylene oxide comes in contact with food products, it can undergo various reactions within the product. Consumers could be exposed through the reaction of ethylene oxide with the product. One of these reactions could produce 2-chloroethanol, which serves as a marker for use of ethylene oxide.
  3.  Classification

    • Ethylene Oxide is a category 1B mutagen, carcinogen, and toxic compound for reproduction.
  4. Restrictions

    • Europe: Ethylene oxide for food fumigation was phased out in 1991. Many countries have imposed additional restrictions on its use due to toxicological concerns. Reg. (EC) 396/2005 defines the limit as the “sum of ethylene oxide and 2-chloro-ethanol expressed in ethylene oxide” with a limit in sesame seeds of 0.05 mg/kg. Reg (EU) 231/2012 states ethylene oxide cannot be used to sterilize food additives and sets limits for some additives involving it in the production process.
    • USA & Canada: Ethylene oxide is starting to be considered as a pesticide in some states. Limits have been set in spices, dried herbs, vegetables, and oily seeds (including sesame seeds).
    • Other countries such as Australia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand have not set explicit limits yet.
  5.  Verification

    • Analytical testing of ethylene oxide and 2-chloroethanol is now an accredited offering of Mérieux NutriSciences through GC-MS/MS testing.


Over the past year, Mérieux NutriSciences has established a consulting partnership with George E. Dunaif Ph.D., DABT, CFS in order to better serve their clients in the area of food toxicology.  In part three of this three-part Q & A, Dr. Dunaif provides some information about the toxicological services offered by Mérieux NutriSciences.

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Over the past year, Mérieux NutriSciences has established a consulting partnership with George E. Dunaif Ph.D., DABT, CFS in order to better serve their clients in the area of food toxicology. In part two of this three-part series, Dr. Dunaif gives us an overview of the field of toxicology and its importance to the food industry.

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Understanding and learning from leaders of the past is fundamental to shaping our future. We are fortunate to have so many great ambassadors in which our roots were built and are able to draw on their vast experiences from Silliker to Mérieux NutriSciences. In this article, we show how the blending of Mérieux with Silliker Laboratories was the perfect match.

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Each year, we get excited about the opportunity to honor our founder, Dr. John H Silliker, through the sponsorship of The John H. Silliker Lecture as part of the annual IAFP program. The annual lecture was established by Mérieux NutriSciences in 2004 to recognize the achievements of Dr. Silliker through the practical application of scientific principles to improve food protection. The John H. Silliker Lecture provides an avenue for recognized experts to present important and timely information on topics of significance to food protection. We could not ask for a better venue than the IAFP Annual Meeting to honor Dr. Silliker’s legacy of 50 years of protecting consumers’ health.

The 2020 chosen lecturer is Dr. Peter Ben Embarek with the World Health Organization. Read on to hear from Dr. Embarek to hear about his presentation at this year’s annual IAFP meeting.  Continue Reading

Our company’s mission statement is centered around consumer health and advancing science. This is embraced and emulated by each president of the past. As we look back, we recognize the success we have had as a company is only as great as our people. Among these great people, is our late president Dr. Russell Flowers. Read on to learn about his contribution to the food industry and science.

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