What the Heck is Citric Acid?

Photo by Nhia Moua on Unsplash

Citric Acid. It’s in so many things these days it is hard to avoid. Salsas, tortillas, canned tomatoes, hummus, sodas, ice cream, candy, jarred mushrooms, pre-packaged potatoes, shampoo, hand soap, facial cleanser, dish detergent, metal cleaners, and the list goes on and on. What’s the big deal, you ask? It’s easily pronounceable so it passes that test. It sounds like something from citrus. And citrus is good for us, right? Hmm. Maybe. Or, maybe not.

Back in the old days (1700s-ish), citric acid was made from lemons. These days (since the early 1900s, actually), citric acid is made from mold. Black mold. And what feeds the mold is sugars. Usually from corn. GMO corn. You can find citric acid made from sugar, (cane or beets) although that’s often going to be a GMO crop as well, so if that kind of thing concerns you then you might want to check with the manufacturer on their source. 

Why is this an issue? Well, some folks might not want to be using a product that was made with black mold. Also, people who are allergic to corn might be having allergic reactions to products or foods made with citric acid and not even realize that the ingredient could be a source. In addition, concerns about a possible link between citric acid and tooth erosion have been brought up by some medical practitioners.

Maybe you don’t have issues with corn and you are fine with mold. And perhaps tooth issues are not high on your list of worries. It’s still important for you to know what citric acid really is so you can make informed choices. Looking to lessen your exposure to unnecessary ingredients? You can ditch the citric acid. It’s not doing anything to benefit you and it’s just a preservative. If you make your own products you can avoid this by making just enough for you to use and not worrying about them going bad in the meantime. If you are buying packaged foods, seek out ones that don’t use that preservative. Or better yet, make your own convenience foods like chips and trail mix! There are lots of recipes online.

My workshop “What’s In Your Products” is now available online as a self-paced course. For less than the cost of a nice dinner for two at a favorite restaurant, you can become informed about how to reduce your exposure to toxins on a daily basis. Click here for more details.

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