ABSTRACT We have tested disinfection effects of performic acid at 2.5C in order to know if this compound could be used in the food industry. Microorganisms tested were Escherichia coli ATCC 13706, E. coli O157 : H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, S. Enteritidis, Campylobacter jejuni and Listeria monocytogenes. The performic acid-sensitive bacteria were eliminated within 5 min at 3–4 mg/L of performic acid and the most resistant strains at 20 mg/L. There was an initial threshold concentration, where practically no bacterial reduction occurred. This threshold concentration ranged from 1–3 mg/L up to 7 mg/L of performic acid (for E. coli O157 : H7). Above the threshold, a rapid, concentration-dependent reduction was detected and performic acid could efficiently destroy bacteria spread by fecal bacteria tested. The resistance order from the most performic acid-sensitive to the most resistant was: Campylobacter = Listeria < E. coli ATCC 13706 < S. Typhimurium < S. Enteritidis < E. coli O157 : H7. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Performic acid was found to be as an interesting potential disinfectant in industrial processes, such as the meat industry, being effective at low temperature. The compound must be prepared for each day, but if there is an automatic mixer, this is not a problem in the industrial scale since the preparation is an easy mixing of two compounds. There should be more knowledge about its disinfection efficiency in the presence of organic matter, but it is possible to prepare concentrations so strong that total elimination of enteric bacteria could be reached.