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Scientific Opinion on the safety and efficacy of formaldehyde as a feed hygiene substance in feed for pigs and poultry

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The additive formaldehyde is an aqueous solution of formaldehyde (34–38 % w/w by specification) and methanol (0.5–15.0 % v/v by specification), with a maximum concentration of formic acid of 0.05 %. It is applied for use as a feed hygiene substance in poultry and pigs. Concerning the safety assessment for target species, consumers, users and the environment, no new relevant data were provided which would lead the FEEDAP Panel to reconsider its two recent opinions on formaldehyde. Therefore, the FEEDAP Panel reiterates its former conclusions on the safety of formaldehyde when used as a feed additive. A safe level for poultry and pigs could not be determined. The proposed use of formaldehyde as a feed additive would not increase consumer exposure and consequently would not pose an additional risk to the consumer. No safe level of exposure of the skin, eyes or respiratory system to formaldehyde could be identified. Formaldehyde is not expected to accumulate in the environment and would therefore not pose a risk to the environment when used in animal nutrition. The additive has the potential to be effective in reducing bacterial growth in an already contaminated feed at a lowest concentration of about 200 mg/kg complete feed; the prevention of recontamination requires considerably higher concentrations. The efficacy data submitted for the additive formaldehyde fulfil the classical requirements for a preservative. The FEEDAP Panel notes that reducing the microbial load in contaminated feed does not reduce the hazards associated with bacterial toxins and endotoxins, which may already be present in feed.