Organic Acids - A Review

Published on: 08/02/2017
Author/s : Hafiz Usama Rasheed DVM, Technical Manager Mian Group Of Companies.

Due to the vast expansion of poultry industry challenges also increases. One of them is the control of microbial population which is done by excessive use of therapeutics antibiotics and AGP’s. The indiscriminate use of these products results in the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Apart from resistance it also leads to public health concern. Due to this EU has banned the use of AGP&rsquo...

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August 7, 2017

Thank you, sir Akram, for your point can you send me some published data to support your argument because according to my limited knowledge organic acids does work as mold inhibitors.
Thanks.
my email id is
dr.usama391@gmail.com

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August 7, 2017

Thank you, Olivier, for your comment. about your question adaptation is negligible according to my knowledge.

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August 7, 2017
Dear Dr. Muhammad Akram, You raised a very interesting point. The fungi growth is promoted when dysbiosis takes place which occur more often in case of AGP supplementation. The OA supplementation promotes Eubiosis which naturally keeps a check on fungi growth.
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August 7, 2017
Dear Olivier, it is just a hypothesis and no research at least to my knowledge has been published indicating the development of resistant strains of bacteria against OA.
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Haroon Mushtaq Haroon Mushtaq
PostDoc in Poultry Nutrition
August 8, 2017

Pka value of formic acid is a big question on its release in later part of the intestine. And to what extent it reduces pH in different parts of GIT? Also what kind of substances were used before AGP era? Organic acids? 
Also, think of other organic acids... and other substances.. having additive effects with organic acids.

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Christoph Hutter Christoph Hutter
Poultry farmer
August 8, 2017

Hi all,
Pka value on formic is to my knowledge 3,75
Why it should not be known.
If you feed formic acid pure nearly nothing will arrive in the latter part of the destine.
The ph value is not the big difference in the action in the destine you will come down 0.3 - 0.5 ph and it helps more for better secretion of destine juices.
Resistance is always a discussion but against the action of an acid it is not easy to be resistant.

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Joshua Jendza Joshua Jendza
Animal Nutritionist
August 9, 2017
The pKa of formic acid is known (3.75 as indicated by someone else). As for how this affects dissociation, that depends on the pH of the surrounding environment. The degree of association/disassociation between the cation and anion is dependent on the pH of the solution.

Formic acid added to feed with a pH of 6-7 will completely disassociate. However, once that acidified feed is consumed and further acidified by the HCl in the proventriculous of the bird, it will reassociate by taking up H+ ions released by the HCl produced by the birds. This is because the association/disassociation of acids is reversible.

Generally the pH of the proventriculous has a pH between 2 to 4, meaning that formic acid will be between 2 and 100% disassociated, depending on the specific pH of the microenvironment within the proventriculous. Later on, when the digesta flows into the more alkaline intestine, the dissociation degree will be 100% (any pH at 3.8 or above). However, this is the average pH of the digesta. Within the gut there are acidic microenvironments along the brush boarder membrane that are essential to proper function of many nutrient transporters (any based on an inwardly directed proton gradient), so even in the ostensibly neutral pH intestine, there exist micro environments where some formate would be able to reassociate with H+ and regenerate formic acid from formate.
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August 9, 2017
I agree with Joshua Jendza as far as the questions of @Haroon are concerned, I would suggest you to look at diformate molecule and lot of fog will be cleared. Also, the other organic acids do have bacteriocidal and basteriostatic properties but one has to see the MIC especially when choosing a product that contain a mix of different organic acids. From that angle, in those products, none of the organic acid will be in sufficient quantity to effectively acidify the gut. Diformate molecule has the ability to go down the intestine as shown by high percentage recovery in distal segments of the intestine.
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Faisal Sajjad Faisal Sajjad
Doctor of veterinary Medicine (DVM)
July 1, 2018
Why glacial acetic acid is different than other organic acids regarding poultry GIT?
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Joshua Jendza Joshua Jendza
Animal Nutritionist
July 3, 2018
Faisal Sajjad

All organic acids are different. However, in terms of the GIT of the gut, acetic acid (glacial simply implies pure acid) does not really stand out.

Acetic acid is one of the more dense organic acids, such that on an equal weight basis pure acetic acid delivers comparable acidification potential to roughly 75% formic acid in high pH feeds where full, or near full dissociation can be expected.

However, the higher pKa means acetic acid will not be a viable solution if you are looking to achieve water acidification to a pH much below 4.5. For comparison, at a pH of 4.0 only about 3% of the acetic acid will be in the dissociated state, meaning unreasonably high concentrations would be needed. This is compared with roughly 75% dissociation of the formic at the same pH.

There is also plenty of data showing that acetic acid is not as potent, even on an equimolar basis against bacteria in vitro. This is likely due to the interaction between particle size and membrane diffusion rate of the undissociated acids. The smaller formic appears to more efficiently move across the cell membrane, thus more rapidly achieving strong acidification of the cytosol.
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Christoph Hutter Christoph Hutter
Poultry farmer
July 3, 2018

On top in acetic acid, you often can see that bacterias can grow.
This is the same for Lactic acid if it is diluted some of this molecules can be used as energy to some bacteria or fungus or even Algae
We see more and more of this growth in Europe in systems where it is used for a long term.
If you have a good Formic product you will not see it.

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Joshua Jendza Joshua Jendza
Animal Nutritionist
July 3, 2018
Christoph Hutter This is a good point!

Some of the organic acids can be used as an energy source at lower concentrations, or when used in isolation. This difference can even be seen at the same pH with some acids resulting in blooms and others not. It depends on the microorganisms having the molecular pathway to metabolize the acid. As you say, this is not seen for formic acids. And many blends based on other acids will have formic acid in the mix to try and prevent this known hazard.
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Christoph Hutter Christoph Hutter
Poultry farmer
July 3, 2018

Dear Joshua,

Yes, this is what I see in my daily work and more often.
And if you start with acid, be aware that you remove the first water from the pipes as it will be a really dirty game. If you do acids for the first time, it doesn't matter which one you are using.

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Carlos Augusto Borges Carlos Augusto Borges
Nutricionista
July 9, 2018

All short chain organic acids used in animal nutrition have pKa between 3.8 to 5.0 and, if not protected with vegetable fat, do not pass the duodenum at significant concentrations as they will be absorbed and used as energy sources by different routes metabolic.

Some organic acids such as formic, sorbic and benzoic have a higher efficiency than others in controlling gram-negative bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. However, others such as acetic acid are not indicated, because in several publications they present a growth of microorganisms, mainly salmonella.

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August 26, 2019

How to measure the acid value of Acidifier combination having acetic, formic, fumeric acid, etc.?

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Ranganathan Ranganathan
International Trade COACH
July 8, 2020
Why
How

an acid in any form is defined Organic as prefix?
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Joshua Jendza Joshua Jendza
Animal Nutritionist
July 8, 2020

Ranganathan - They are defined this way for the same reason that organic chemistry is different from inorganic chemistry. The presence of carbon.

Organic Acids are acids that contain carbon. For example the chemical formula for formic acid, the simplest organic acid, is HCOOH. Inorganic acids lack carbon (hydrochloric acid is HCl, for example).

This is different from the marketing term "Organic", which means in compliance with some sort of process certification like USDA Organic.

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Ranganathan Ranganathan
International Trade COACH
July 9, 2020
Joshua Jendza

Appreciate ??

Pl find herewith your content - my Concern.

*This is different from the marketing term "Organic", which means in compliance iwth some sort of process certification like USDA Organic*

No compliance, many such products in the Indian poultry industry are being sold on larger volume Unethically.

Neither scientific backup
Nor Field tried.

Thank you.
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Joshua Jendza Joshua Jendza
Animal Nutritionist
July 14, 2020
Ranganathan

That can be a problem. Not all countries have an official process certification for “Organic” or other marketing terms, and thus it is up to the consumer themselves to figure out if the label mans anything consistently, which can be impossible.
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Ranganathan Ranganathan
International Trade COACH
July 15, 2020
Joshua Jendza it is.
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July 27, 2020

We have come to know the difference between organic acid and inorganic acid, thanks for your highlight. What of organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry and the relationship that exist between the two?

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Frederic Paris Frederic Paris
Poultry farmer
September 24, 2020
Hi, going through this very instructive discussion, it helps me understand more the dissociation concept of OA vs PKa of the environment around the OA molecule. It rise me a few questions:

I use Selko PH (Pro Hydro in Canada) in my broilers. It’s is made of formic and acetic acid with a added ammonia as a buffer to protect the acids to dissociate later in the GIT. I must say it looks making the job with better litter quality, better droppings, and a slight gain in FCR. But, if PKa of acetic acid is over 4, and I adjust water PH to 4-4.5, does it means all acetic acid will dissociate in the pipes before reaching the birds? So not very useful as a GIT point of view?

Then, if it is used only to control water quality, isn’t it would be cheaper to run regular water sanitizer like chlorine or Chlorine dioxide ?

Then, the formic acid part as a PKa of 3.75 as stated before. Again, if I run my water PH at 4-4.5, does the ammonia as a buffer will allow to keep the formic acid undissociated until it wil at least reach the birds crop ?

The target PH with Selko PH is 3.8, probably to keep formic acid undissociated the longer possible ? But, why not adjust our very alkaline ph water to 3.8 with a smaller qty of hydrochloride acid, then inject a smaller dose of Selko PH ( this would be way cheaper) to have about the same qty of formic acid reaching the later part of GIT in the bird?

The low water ph helps to buffer the feed alkalinity, so I would be ok with a cheaper dose of HCL, and my organic acid effect would still be achieved .

Am I right?

Reply
Carlos Augusto Borges Carlos Augusto Borges
Nutricionista
September 25, 2020
Dear Frederic

I will try to answer your questions.

Firstly, the objective of using organic acids in water is to lower the pH of the water itself, as most pathogenic bacteria do not grow in environments with pH <4.0.
Ammonia is used in these products precisely to buffer the pH of the water around 4.0, because if the pH drops too much, the birds can decrease the consumption of water and feed.
Organic acids such as formic and acetic are weak acids, and do not have the capacity to lower the pH in the birds' TGI even if they are used via feed. Via water, they would only be able to lower the pH of the crop, mainly in the pre-slaughter period in order to reduce contamination of the carcass.
The acid can only acidify when it loses H, that is, when it dissociates. Therefore, the organic acids added to the water will dissociate in the water itself in order to lower the pH to the desired point.
Another important comment about pka is that all short chain organic acids used in poultry and pigs have their pka between 3.0 and 5.0 and will always dissociate until the initial third of the TGI which has a pH close to these values.
As for the questioning of chlorine in water, we must remember that it loses its effect whenever the water contains organic matter (biofilm) and this does not occur with organic acids.
If the intention is to control the growth of pathogenic bacteria, seeking the balance of the intestinal microflora I advise using a product based on organic acids protected with vegetable fat so that they can be released slowly and only in the final third of the intestine where the pathogenic bacteria are found.
I don't know whether to answer all your questions.
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Fred Hoerr
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