I am posting this on my blog, in hopes that it may come to the attention of people searching the term 'Citric Acid Allergy'.
Citric acid is often used as a part of the process used to pre-wash salad ingredients, before being packaged for sale. The packages do not list citric acid as an ingredient, but enough of it remained on and in the lettuce we bought to make me ill this week.
It makes sense. Remember what happens to a white daisy if the vase contains blue water? The petals turn blue as the water is absorbed. Those freshly-cut lettuce leaves are sitting in citric acidified water for long enough the leaves have absorbed it, too. I submit at that point it is no longer a part of a process, but becomes an ingredient.
The owner of the store contacted their source, and both of them contacted me, which gives them high points for customer service, however I still became ill and lost 2 days of work so far this week (I am self-employed).
The letter from the producer stated:
"Misionero has always had an allergen program in place and we believe very strongly in protecting our customers in every way possible.
This is actually why we use Sodium Hypochlorite and Citric Acid in our processes. Water alone does not provide adequate safety when washing any volume of salad beyond your kitchen sink. The reason for this is that we absolutely must prevent the risk of pathogens cross contaminating in our wash process. Our process uses carefully managed amounts of both chemicals, precise agitation and controlled dwell time to produce consistent, measured results.
This is why we believe it to be much safer than washing products at home.
However, in order to use the minimum amount of sodium hypochlorite we must reduce the pH of the wash water, which makes it more effective. We do this using organic, kosher citric acid derived from natural fermentation of non-GMO materials only. Our organic certifier helps us ensure this is done properly and with correct controls.
We do not list citric acid as an ingredient as it is a processing aid only. You may wonder why we use this at all, instead of some of the other methods available such as Ozone, Peracetic Acid, Chlorine Dioxide etc. The reason is simple, at this time this is the safest method possible. We have experimented with other processes and have repeatedly come to this conclusion.
So for now, we will continue to use these materials in the smallest quantities possible. We also continue to look for alternatives and eagerly await the development of something more effective and easier to use.
Again I offer my sympathy for your experience."