Plenty of chemicals and food additives are multi-purpose, but few perhaps are as versatile as calcium chloride. Finding calcium chloride in food or drink is extremely common, with uses throughout the industry – as well as other applications, including bio-medical manufacturing. It’s a safe, incredibly useful substance that is found in so many places that people might be surprised!
So, here are just a few of its uses.
Where You Might Find Calcium Chloride in Food and Drink
- As a firming agent
One major property of calcium chloride is that it works as a sequestrant. It can isolate and protect the fats in food from oxidizing, and in turn, this prevents them from breaking down when stored. So, you will very commonly see calcium chloride utilized in canned fruits and vegetables – it’s what prevents them from turning into mush on store shelves. It may even be put onto fresh fruits/vegetables, particularly those sold pre-sliced – such as apples – to prevent oxidation.
- As a salting agent
What do you do if you want something to taste salty, but you don’t want to increase your food’s sodium levels? One potential solution is to add calcium chloride. It has a very salty flavor – not exactly like table salt, but close. So, it mixes well with foods that are already salty, adding flavor and preservative properties but without adding sodium. For example, most brands of jarred pickles utilize it.
- As a freezing depressant
Calcium chloride lowers the freezing temperature of water considerably, which can be very useful in the production of some foods. This application is common in confections, such as altering the freezing point of caramel so it can be more easily added to frozen treats.
- As an electrolyte
Yes, calcium chloride also works as an electrolyte in the human body. So, it’s very commonly used in sports drinks – that’s what gives them their distinctly salty flavor. In this case, it’s pulling double duty as both electrolyte and preservative.
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With the current consumer drive towards healthier and “more natural” foods, it’s understandable for some companies to be concerned about putting too many artificial preservatives in their products. However, when it comes to sodium benzoate, there is very little to fear. This is one of the most commonly used preservatives in the world and has been repeatedly found to be of no threat to human health when used properly. (more…)
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Sodium Benzoate is among the most commonly used artificial preservatives in food and medicine today. It is also well-studied and considered to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, allowing it to be used a wide variety of products.
In this article, we’ll cover what sodium benzoate is, where it comes from, its uses, and any potential health issues that might arise from overuse.
- The Basics of Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is an odorless white power, created by combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide (lye). Sodium benzoate is not naturally occurring and must be created in a lab, although its primary ingredient – benzoic acid – is natural. This acid can be found in many commonplace plants, such as tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon, apples, and cranberries. It is also produced as a byproduct of some fermenting processes, such as the creation of yogurt.
Benzoic acid is already a good preservative on its own. The addition of sodium hydroxide makes it more readily soluble, and therefore easier to use in a wider variety of products.
- Uses of Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate was among the first artificial preservatives approved by the FDA and is therefore used widely throughout the food and beverage industry. It actively inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria, allowing for significantly extended shelf lives for treated products.
Being based in an acid, the preservative does have a noticeable sharp flavor. Therefore, it is most commonly used in products which are themselves acidic or salty, such as sodas, citric juices, pickles, salad dressing, and soy sauce.
Sodium benzoate also sees significant use in the health and beauty industries. It is commonly used as a preservative for liquid medications, such as cough syrup, and is also utilized in a wide variety of cosmetics.
III. Potential Health Issues from Sodium Benzoate
While sodium benzoate itself is harmless, in certain circumstances it can convert into benzene, which is known to be a carcinogen. This is most likely to happen when in the presence of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). However, the process is inhibited when sugars are present, so the biggest danger is from diet sodas and fruit juices. The industry generally avoids using sodium benzoate in diet/sugar-free drinks for this reason.
Otherwise, sodium benzoate is considered entirely safe when used in proper quantities.
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