Canned products that include seafood and vegetables, carbonated beverages, and sandwich spreads such as mayonaise, are some of the common foodstuffs that contain EDTA.
Did You Know?
Pharmaceutical grade EDTA is a prescription medicine, recommended for the treatment of lead poisoning.
EDTA, also referred to as edetic acid, is an approved food additive and although it does not serve any nutritional purpose, adding it is necessary to prevent the food product from going rancid. There are various forms of EDTA and the one added in processed foods is a food-grade organic compound. It gives increased shelf-life to the product as well as helps retain its original flavor. Following are the foods and beverages that contain EDTA.
The soft drinks industry certainly cannot do without EDTA. It is added to protect the flavor and color of the drink. It ensures that the drink does not lose its flavor until the bottle is opened. Soft drinks that contain sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid particularly contain EDTA. Ascorbic acid when combined with sodium benzoate produces benzene, which has been deemed as carcinogenic to humans. However, in the presence of EDTA, the amount of benzene formed is very less, which is insignificant. Quite a few carbonated drinks manufactured under Coca Cola and PepsiCo have EDTA. Be it the Mountain Dew, the fruit-flavored Fanta or the Diet 7-UP, these beverages contain EDTA.
Among alcoholic drinks, beer contains EDTA. In beer, EDTA acts like an anti-gushing agent, which helps minimize gushing after opening the bottle. Addition of EDTA is one of the steps taken to prevent or inhibit gushing upon opening the bottle. Even distilled alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, vodka, rum, and brandy contain EDTA. In these beverages, it acts as a clarifying agent. The color and turbidity of the beverage is found to be stable due to the presence of EDTA.
Condiments or flavor enhancers such as mayonnaise, ketchup, jam, and sauce are also added with EDTA, primarily to give them a longer shelf-life. So, these products that you see on the shelf for months without getting spoiled is due to the presence of EDTA in them. These products, including commercial cheese and butter also act as sandwich spreads. They are not free from this food additive. The commercial brand salad dressings that are often added to pasta, rice, and salads to increase flavor, also contain EDTA.
Canned products that are ready to serve have also not escaped the addition of EDTA. Cooked canned seafood; be it fish, shrimp, crab meat, or clams contain EDTA. It helps inhibit the growth of struvite, crystals that comprise ammonium, magnesium, and phosphate. These substances are natural constituents of fish but form crystals while heating and canning. Although these crystals that appear similar to pieces of broken glass, are not a cause for concern, they may interfere with the flavor and taste of the canned product. Hence EDTA is added to prevent the growth of the crystal structure of struvite. Artificial colors are often added to enhance the visual appeal of canned seafood. Addition of EDTA also helps prevent discoloration and aids in retaining the flavor of canned seafood.
Cooked canned vegetables that include beans, peas, cabbages, corn, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, and artichokes, also have EDTA. It helps protect the natural color, flavor and overall quality of food. It acts as a sequestering agent, meaning it binds or sequesters the metal in the can and stops it from reacting with food that causes discoloration or food degradation. So, whether you choose red, pink or dried lima beans, when you buy them in canned form, they are likely to contain EDTA.
Pickled products such as sauerkraut and pickled cucumber also contain EDTA. It acts as a preservative and prevents rancidity, meaning one can enjoy the original taste of the product for quite some time after opening it. The color and texture of the pickled product also remains intact due to this food additive.
As aforementioned, EDTA is a permitted food additive, found in very small amounts in foodstuffs and is safe for consumption. Although EDTA, when taken in substantial amounts can be toxic, the amount present in foods is too small to pose any health risk.