Inhibitory effect of oxalic acid on bacterial spoilage of raw chilled chicken

J Food Prot. 2006 Aug;69(8):1913-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-69.8.1913.


Oxalic acid was evaluated as a treatment for reducing populations of naturally occurring microorganisms on raw chicken. Raw chicken breasts were dipped in solutions of oxalic acid (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0%, wt/vol) for 10, 20, and 30 min, individually packed in oxygen-permeable polyethylene bags, and stored at 4 degrees C. Total plate counts of aerobic bacteria and populations of Pseudomonas spp. and Enterobacteriaceae on breasts were determined before treatment and after storage for 1, 3, 7, 10, and 14 days. The pH and Hunter L, a, and b values of the breast surface were measured. Total plate counts were ca. 1.5 and 4.0 log CFU/g higher on untreated chicken breasts after storage for 7 and 14 days, respectively, than on breasts treated with 0.5% oxalic acid, regardless of dip time. Differences in counts on chicken breasts treated with water and 1.0 to 2.0% of oxalic acid were greater. Populations of Pseudomonas spp. on chicken breasts treated with 0.5 to 2.0% oxalic acid and stored at 4 degrees C for 1 day were less than 2 log CFU/g (detection limit), compared with 5.14 log CFU/g on untreated breasts. Pseudomonas grew on chicken breasts treated with 0.5% oxalic acid to reach counts not exceeding 3.88 log CFU/g after storage for 14 days. Counts on untreated chicken exceeded 8.83 log CFU/g at 14 days. Treatment with oxalic acid caused similar reductions in Enterobacteriaceae counts. Kocuria rhizophila was the predominant bacterium isolated from treated chicken. Other common bacteria included Escherichia coli and Empedobacter brevis. Treatment with oxalic acid caused a slight darkening in color (decreased Hunter L value), retention of redness (increased Hunter a value), and increase in yellowness (increased Hunter b value). Oxalic acid has potential for use as a sanitizer to reduce populations of spoilage microorganisms naturally occurring on raw chicken, thereby extending chicken shelf life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / growth & development
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Preservation / methods
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Immersion
  • Oxalic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas / growth & development
  • Reducing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Reducing Agents
  • Oxalic Acid