Scientific Opinion on the safety and efficacy of formic acid, ammonium formate and sodium formate as feed hygiene agents for all animal species

formic acid, ammonium formate, formamide, sodium formate, feed hygiene agent, safety, efficacy
First published in the EFSA Journal
27 May 2015
30 April 2015
Scientific Opinion


This opinion concerns the authorisation for a new use of formic acid, ammonium formate and sodium formate used as feed hygiene agents for all animal species. Studies performed with formic acid or its salts are considered equivalent when these agents are used on an equimolar basis. Conclusions of the previous opinion on formic acid and its safety for target species, consumers and the environment are reiterated. No adverse effects are anticipated when formic acid is used at the maximum proposed dose (pigs 12 000 mg/kg, all other animal species 10 000 mg/kg formic acid equivalents/kg complete feed). For ammonium formate, the inevitable presence of formamide is considered insufficient to guarantee the protection of reproduction animals from developmental toxicity. Evidence of carcinogenic potential argues for avoiding its use in reproducing animals and non-food-producing animals. The use of formic acid and sodium formate in animal nutrition is safe for consumers. Use of ammonium formate in dairy animals and laying poultry gives rise to concerns because of the potential exposure of consumers to formamide. Formic acid and its salts are corrosive and skin sensitisers. Sodium formate is mildly irritating to the eyes. Ammonium formate is considered an irritant for skin and eyes. The exposure via inhalation is considered to present a risk to unprotected workers handling the additive. The use of formic acid and its salts in animal nutrition is safe for the environment. Formic acid, at recommended concentrations, is effective at inhibiting or reducing the numbers of bacterial pathogens in feed, fulfilling the classical requirements of a preservative additive. Limited data are available to demonstrate the effects of formate salts in feed. Decreasing the number of viable microbial cells in contaminated feed does not eliminate the potential hazards associated with bacterial toxins and endotoxins that may be present in feed.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Gabriele Aquilina, Vasileios Bampidis, Maria De Lourdes Bastos, Lucio Guido Costa, Gerhard Flachowsky, Mikolaj Antoni Gralak, Christer Hogstrand, Lubomir Leng, Secundino López-Puente, Giovanna Martelli, Baltasar Mayo, Fernando Ramos, Derek Renshaw, Guido Rychen, Maria Saarela, Kristen Sejrsen, Patrick Van Beelen, Robert John Wallace and Johannes Westendorf.
Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed
EFSA Journal 2015;13(5):4113
Question Number
On request from
European Commission