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Defra-Approved Disinfectants: Your Top 5 Questions Answered

There is a wide range of disinfectant products on the market in the UK, that suit different applications and end-user or business needs. Choosing the right one for your organisation is crucial and, in some cases, a legal requirement.

As well as reviewing whether products meet the relevant efficacy requirements for your organisation, you may also need to consider whether you could be at risk of an outbreak of a notifiable disease.

In such unfortunate events, the specific disinfectants allowed by law are listed in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) in England, Scotland, and Wales, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland. Having an approved disinfectant for notifiable diseases readily available on-site is paramount for the efficient control of an outbreak.

Who is Defra?

Defra, or the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, stands as the English government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries, and rural communities. Working closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, Defra has set up robust protocols to manage certain dangerous diseases in the UK, referred to as notifiable diseases, through rigorous disinfection measures. Products approved for use against notifiable diseases must go through further testing on top of the requirements set out in the Biocidal Products Regulation, often in much harsher conditions, to be included on the Defra Approved Disinfectants List and DAERA Approved Disinfectants List (where applied for).

While Defra does not have jurisdiction over other countries, its test protocols for notifiable diseases are highly regarded and frequently serve as a benchmark for certifying disinfectants under national protocols elsewhere.

What are notifiable diseases?

Notifiable diseases are diseases affecting animals that must legally be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an executive agency of Defra. These encompass diseases already present in the UK (such as Tuberculosis) as well as those not typically found (like foot and mouth disease). Some of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between animals and humans.

The list of notifiable diseases for which guidance has been published can be found on the government website, but for ease of selecting a suitable disinfectant product, they have been categorised into the following types:

  • Foot and Mouth Disease Orders
  • Swine Vesicular Disease Orders
  • Diseases of Poultry Order and the Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals Order
  • Tuberculosis Orders

There are also disinfectants for General Orders which are used to control an outbreak of a notifiable disease not covered under these types. For example, Defra could order approved disinfectants to be used to control an outbreak of Bluetongue virus.

How are disinfectants approved by Defra?

Securing Defra-approval for a disinfectant product involves undergoing stringent testing protocols, surpassing the requirements of the BPR (see our article on Ensuring Compliance in the Veterinary Sector). These tests are more demanding, assessing factors including higher soil levels, and can take several months to complete before a product is approved.

Once approved, specific text is applied to the label detailing the type of approval, as well as the dilution rate required for each notifiable disease. This information correlates with the information published on the Approved Disinfectants List.

The list of approved products is updated regularly, it is advisable to check periodically to ensure your chosen product retains its approved status.

Why is it important to always have a Defra-approved disinfectant on site?

In the event of a suspected notifiable disease outbreak, the APHA must be notified immediately. Failure to report your suspicions is against the law. If the notifiable disease cannot be ruled out over the phone, APHA will investigate further and usually visit the premises. In instances of a confirmed notifiable disease, restrictions may be put on your premises, a temporary control zone may be set up, and susceptible animals may ultimately be culled. Activities that may spread the disease may be limited, such as exports, hunting, and animal gatherings (e.g., fairs, markets, shows, sales, etc.). In addition, APHA will require the disinfection of your premises using a Defra-approved disinfectant as specified in the relevant order. Failure to have a Defra-approved disinfectant on-site could heighten the outbreak while awaiting procurement, increasing the risk of the disease spreading and causing unnecessary and preventable loss of life.

In some instances, Defra-approved disinfectants are also required for routine cleaning and disinfecting. If you are disinfecting livestock transport vehicles, animal gathering areas (markets and fairs) or abattoir vehicles and animal holding areas, you should always use a disinfectant approved by Defra for General Orders.

Defra-approved disinfectants are not legally required for routine cleaning in other areas but are strongly recommended in those which are at risk of contact with wild or imported animals, such as zoos, wildlife parks, charities, welfare/rehoming centres, and game bird organisations. Contact with wild birds or unvaccinated animals poses a strong risk to animal health but can be managed effectively by using a Defra-approved disinfectant.

Which Byotrol products are Defra-approved?

The following ANIGENE products have been approved by Defra for General Orders and Poultry Orders in Great Britain. They also hold approval from DAERA in Northern Ireland and feature on the DAFM Registered List of Disinfectants for Use Against Certain Exotic Diseases in the Republic of Ireland:

ANIGENE Professional Surface Disinfectant Cleaner – Dill Fragrance

ANIGENE Professional Surface Disinfectant Cleaner – Citrus Fragrance

ANIGENE Professional Surface Disinfectant Cleaner – Un-fragranced

Dilution instructions and directions for use are detailed on the product labels, and in our ANIGENE product data pack, which customers can download from the resources section of this website.

Byotrol’s ANIGENE Chlorine Tablets are also approved by Defra, for all five orders and are ideal to store securely in case of outbreaks, given their small size and long shelf life.

For more information about our products or to speak to a member of our team, please contact us.