Scientific Opinion on the evaluation of the safety and efficacy of peroxyacetic acid solutions for reduction of pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat

decontamination, poultry, peroxyacetic acid, efficacy, toxicological safety assessment, antimicrobial resistance, environmental impact  
First published in the EFSA Journal
26. März 2014
6. März 2014
Scientific Opinion


Studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of solutions, containing peroxyacetic acid (PAA) as the active ingredient, in mixtures with acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and 1-hydroxyethylidene-1,1-diphosphonic acid (HEDP) and possibly octanoic acid and peroxyoctanoic acid, for reduction of pathogens on poultry carcasses and meat were assessed. Treatments at ambient temperature consisted of dipping in short term baths, in chiller baths or spraying. On the basis of the previous EFSA exposure scenarios including short term baths that were not evaluated previously, no toxicity concerns were identified with regard to residues of peroxyacids, to HEDP and to possible reaction products of hydrogen peroxide and peroxyacids with lipids and proteins of the poultry carcasses. A relevant reduction of PAA treatment on E. coli and coliforms was demonstrated by dipping warm carcasses, but few data were available for pathogens (Salmonella and Campylobacter). Spraying appeared to be less effective than dipping in reducing indicator organisms than dipping. When dipping chilled carcasses, reduction of indicator organisms and pathogens was evident, although only in low or medium strength of evidence studies. In chiller bath application, there was a relevant impact on E. coli, but less effect on coliforms, and little data was available on reduction of pathogens. The emergence of acquired reduced susceptibility to biocides and/or resistance to therapeutic antimicrobials following the use of PAA was considered unlikely. There were no concerns for environmental risk of peroxyacids, acetic acid and octanoic acid. On the basis of a conservative preliminary guideline for surface water quality, the emission of HEDP from a poultry plant into the environment could not be considered safe a priori. It was recommended that HACCP plans should include monitoring of the concentration of HEDP and of the decontaminating substance in the working solution and post-marketing surveillance for resistance in both pathogenic and commensal bacteria.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Olivier Andreoletti, Dorte Lau Baggesen, Declan Bolton, Patrick Butaye, Paul Cook, Robert Davies, Pablo S. Fernandez Escamez, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Havelaar, Kostas Koutsoumanis, Roland Lindqvist, James McLauchlin, Truls Nesbakken, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, Giuseppe Ru, Moez Sanaa, Marion Simmons, John Sofos and John Threlfall
Panel on Biological Hazards
biohaz [at]
EFSA Journal 2014;12(3):3599
Question Number
On request from
European Commission