Ethyl formate is generally recognized as safe by the FDA as a direct food substance (21 CFR 184.1295).
Ethyl formate is hydrolyzed to ethanol and formic acid, the latter being the toxic principal for the use of ethyl formate as a pesticide.
The pesticide tolerance for ethyl formate (used to control the flour beetle, Indian meal moth, and raisin moth) was revoked by the EPA in 1999 (removal of 40 CFR 180.520). Interest in ethyl formate as a pesticide, however, continues outside the U.S.
Haritos, V.S. and Dojchinov, G.: Cytochrome c oxidase inhibition in the rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae (L.) by formate, the toxic metabolite of volatile alkyl formates. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 136(2): 135-143, 2003.
Keenes, M., et al.: Disinfestation of food processing equipment. Presented at the 12th Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reduction, San Diego, CA, 30 October - 3 November, 2005.
Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Ethyl Formate. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 1106-1108.
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