Today, citric acid is one of the most common preservatives used around the world, likely only surpassed by salt. Citric acid is all-natural, entirely harmless to humans even when ingested in large quantities, and even has a pleasant taste when added to many dishes. There’s little wonder why so many food and beverage companies turn to it, when they need a preservative for their products.
In this article, we wanted to answer some of the questions we commonly hear about citric acid, as well as dispelling a couple misconceptions.
Answering Common Questions About Citric Acid
- Is it possible to overdose on citric acid?
As with nearly all things, the answer is a qualified yes. However, a huge amount of citric acid is needed to cause genuine harm beyond an upset stomach. Cases of overdose do exist, but they’re considered anomalies among medical professionals. In practical terms, you don’t have to worry about using too much citric acid in your foods.
- Does citric acid only come from fruits?
Citric acid actually occurs naturally in the bodies of all aerobic (oxygen-breathing) organisms – humans included. It’s used by the body to release energy stored in fats, as part of a system called the Krebs Cycle. This is one of the reasons it’s safe to consume, even in relatively large quantities – our bodies are used to having it around.
- Does citric acid contain black mold?
Certain hyperbolic online websites have recently been pushing the idea that citric acid may be unsafe, due to its connection to black mold. This is, as with most such tales, a wild exaggeration based on a grain of truth. Modern citric acid is produced through a process that involves the Aspergillus niger mold. Simply put, if you feed sugars to this mold, it produces citric acid. This acid is easily separated from the mold.
The process has been in place for the better part of a century. It’s a well-understood and entirely safe process which allows modern industry to produce enough citric acid for worldwide use. The fact is that citric acid is probably the safest food preservative in common use.
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