Research shows organic acids as viable feed hygiene alternative for formaldehyde

• The EU has denied authorization of formaldehyde as a preservative and hygiene condition enhancer. • Research by Perstorp shows organic acids enhanced with essential oils as a viable alternative. • New data is now available on the effects of propionic acid on Salmonella bacteria.


Towards the end of 2017, the European Union denied the authorization of formaldehyde as a preservative and hygiene condition enhancer. Foreseeing this decision, Swedish organic acid producer and feed additives manufacturer Perstorp has been researching the mode of action and effectiveness of organic acids against Salmonella for years. New data brought to light that propionic acid reduces the motility of Salmonella, and that specifically selected essential oils have a synergetic effect with organic acids. A new range of ProPhorce SA products puts these new insights to optimal use.

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Formic acid is well known for its antibacterial properties and has been used to combat pathogens for years. In a new development, research at the faculty of veterinary medicine at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands (Burt 2016) shows that propionic acid also has an antibacterial effect that works synergistically to that of formic acid.

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Where earlier trials have shown that some essential oils can allow formic acid to pass the cell wall and neutralize Salmonella, researchers now found that propionic acid effects on the motility of bacteria by stripping them of their flagella. This takes away the mobility of the pathogen and as such renders it harmless. The trials executed at the University of Utrecht also show a clear synergy between all of these components where the efficacy of the combination is much higher than the sum of its parts or of other organic acid solutions that were tested.

“After the announcement of the EU about formaldehyde, we saw an immediate uptake in requests for alternatives from all corners of Europe” states Marc Kinjet, Portfolio Director Preservation for Perstorp Feed & Food. “Feed compounders absolutely need to actively eliminate Salmonella in their factories as it can lead to the closure of a plant when found. These combinations of formic and propionic acid with essential oils have the highest efficacy of any alternative to formaldehyde that we have seen”, he continues.