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Define Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and tell why it is important.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are one way that chemical manufacturers and importers provide hazard information to users, such as foodservice workers. Chemical manufacturers and importers must develop a standard MSDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. The MSDS must be provided automatically when the initial shipment of a hazardous chemical is sent to a distributor or user. The MSDS can be included with the chemical shipment or under separate cover.

The manufacturer evaluates each chemical for its potential to cause adverse health effects and/or physical hazards. Examples of possible hazards are:

Physical Hazards Health Hazards
Chemically reactive and so unstable Toxic (poisonous)
Compressed gases Carcinogenic (causes cancer)
Explosive Reproductive toxins (causes birth defects)
Flammable Irritants
Organic peroxide Sanitizers
Pyrophoric (ignites in air at less than 130°F) Corrosive (strong acid or alkali)
Water-reactive (releases flammable or hazardous gases when mixed with water) Agents that damage skin, eyes, lungs or mucous membranes

No specific MSDS form is required as long as it includes following information: physical and chemical characteristics of the material; known acute and chronic health effects; exposure limits; special handling or use instructions; protective equipment or procedures; emergency and first-aid steps; and the identify of the organization that prepared the MSDS. The form must be prepared in English and include both common names and the specific chemical identify of the product. An example of how many MSDSs are presented is below.

Section Section Information Specifics
1 Contact information Manufacturer name, address, emergency telephone number, telephone number for information, and date prepared
2 Hazard ingredients and identity information Hazardous components in the product
3 Physical and chemical characteristics Boiling point, vapor pressure, vapor density, solubility in water, specific gravity, melting point, evaporation rate, and appearance and odor
4 Fire and explosion hazard data Flash point, extinguishing media, special fire fighting procedures, unusual fire and explosion hazards
5 Reactivity data Stability, incompatibility with other products/substances, hazardous decomposition or by-products
6 Health hazard data Signs and symptoms of exposure, medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure, emergency and first aid procedures, health hazard (acute or chronic)
7 Precautions for safe handling and use Precautions for safe handling and use, such as steps to be taken in case material is related or spilled; water disposal method; precautions to be taken in handling and storing; and any other precautions
8 Control measures Respiratory protection, ventilation, protective gloves, eye protection, other protective clothing or equipment, or work and hygienic practices.

The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor requires that foodservice establishments have a hazard-communication program specific for the products used within the establishment. The foundation of the program is the MSDSs, which should be kept in a binder or a central file. An MSDS needs to be provided for all hazardous chemicals used. Other requirements are that all containers of hazardous chemicals must also be properly labeled, tagged, or marked with the identity; display appropriate hazard warnings; and show the names and addresses of the manufacturers or other responsible parties. The hazard warning can be any message, words, pictures or symbols that convey the hazards of the chemical(s) on the container. The label must be legible, in English (and in other languages as needed), and prominently displayed. The following information is also required: a list of the hazardous chemicals located in each work area; a description of how employees will be informed of the hazards of both normal use and nonroutine tasks; and emergency procedures for spills, leaks or other accidents. The hazard-communication program must also address employee training. OSHA requires that program records are to be available upon request to employees and other designated government officials.

Occupational Safety and Health Agency. Information available at: