The main objective of this study was to determine the ability of various decontaminants to increase the prevalence of resistance to antibiotics in Escherichia coli populations on poultry. Chicken legs were dipped for 15 min into aqueous solutions (wt/vol) of trisodium phosphate (TSP; 12%), acidified sodium chlorite (ASC; 1200 ppm), ascorbic acid (AA; 2%) or citric acid (CA; 2%), or tap water (control). Samples were analyzed immediately after treatment (day 0) and after five days of storage at 7 ± 1 °C. A total of 250 E. coli isolates (50 from each group of samples; 25 on day 0 and 25 on day 5) were tested against twelve antibiotics of clinical significance by means of a standard disc-diffusion technique. A high prevalence of resistance to antibiotics was observed for E. coli strains from control samples, with three (6.0%) isolates sensitive, three (6.0%) resistant to one antibiotic and 44 (88.0%) isolates resistant to two or more antibiotics. Isolates from control samples had a lower prevalence of resistance than those from treated samples to ampicillin-sulbactam (P < 0.01, samples treated with TSP), amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (P < 0.001, ASC, AA and CA), cephotaxime (P < 0.05, TSP), trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole (P < 0.05, AA; P < 0.01, CA), tetracycline (P < 0.01, CA), ciprofloxacin (P < 0.001, ASC; P < 0.05, AA; P < 0.01, CA) and nitrofurantoin (P < 0.01, TSP). These results suggest that the chemical decontaminants tested could favor the emergence, selection and/or proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains in microbial populations on poultry meat.