Monday, June 08, 2009

Warning - Citric Acid Allergy hidden danger

In Answer to Luke's question below, I use this list of foods containing citric acid from Australian Food Standards


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."

23 comments:

AlisonH said...

I wish they had it somehow listed, but I'm glad they came clean. That letter was excellent customer service.

Luke said...

I've known about this practice for some time now. It makes eating out even more difficult than it already is. I feel like a freak when I tell the waiter/waitress that I can't eat lettuce (or just about any other pre-prepared vegetable).
Eating at friend's houses is also a bit embarrassing, and I refuse to ask them to make food especially for me.
Does anybody know where I can get a complete list of foods that have citric acid in them naturally?
Thanks for anything anybody can tell me.
Luke

Luke said...

I've known about this practice for some time now. It makes eating out even more difficult than it already is. I feel like a freak when I tell the waiter/waitress that I can't eat lettuce (or just about any other pre-prepared vegetable).
Eating at friend's houses is also a bit embarrassing, and I refuse to ask them to make food especially for me.
Does anybody know where I can get a complete list of foods that have citric acid in them naturally?
Thanks for anything anybody can tell me.
Luke

Diana Troldahl said...

Luke, I use this list:
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/monitoringandsurveillance/nuttab2006/onlineversionintroduction/onlineversion.cfm?&action=nutrientFoods&nutrientID=CITRIC

Luke said...

Hey Diana, many, MANY thanks for this link. The list will give me a much needed education. Eating out MIGHT be fun again!
Luke.

Luke said...

I just tried replying to Diana, and I don't think the comment 'took' properly. Anyway, many thanks Diana. This list will be of great help to me.
Luke.

Splendid Little Stars said...

This is an education for me. I didn't know people were allergic to citric acid. I thought it was a good thing (vitamin C).

Michelle said...

Vitamin C and citric acid are actually not the same thing. Vitamin C's chemical name is actually ascorbic acid.

Karen said...

I am allergic to citric acid, and high acid foods. Now I seem to be allergic to ascorbic acid too. Am I on the right track here. Does it sound like I'm allergic to any type of acid? The list of foods I can eat seems to be getting very short.

Manboy said...

do tyson plain frozen chicken wings contain citric acid?? what about beef? also what some alcohol beverages i can drink that don't contain it ..
i shop at walmart would like to know do regular chicken contain it or not

Diana Troldahl said...

The only way to know for certain is to call the manufacturers and ask them. It is used as souring agent in some beers, and they don't list all their ingredients. I think Tyson might list it, but they don't need to according to the FDA, from what I learned.

Anonymous said...

well can you give me a list of all your beverages that you all can drink other than water / because like all things contain citric acid imma miss orange juice(sucks), include alcohol beverage to okay

Diana Troldahl said...

"well can you give me a list of all your beverages that you all can drink other than water"

No, I can't. You just need t read the labels if you are drinking something other people make. I CAN tell you that Coke brand products (Coke and Doctor Pepper) tend not to have citric acid, and Pepsi-brand products almost always have citric acid. Myself, I stick mostly to coffee, tea and water.
Oh, and Earl Grey tea is something I miss. Bergamot is a citrus fruit.

Anonymous said...

All meat these days is washed in Citric Acid, even Organic.
It is potent stuff, as it permeates thru to the bone. Not a spot of the the meat is left untouched.

iggabod said...

you still around? this post was june '09. i have a citric acid allergy group in facebook. just search it and look for the citrus fruit picture,.

there are more and more people with this allergy.

lots of info posted there too

kc said...

Many people that are allergic to citric acid actually start to react to all additives made from corn. There is an avoiding corn forum at http://forums.delphiforums.com/AvoidingCorn/messages

There are many prepared foods that have hidden citric acid and to avoid it, we buy our beef from a local farmer and have it custom processed (buy a side of beef or whole cow at a time). For the person that shops at Walmart, there are only about 8 items in my local Walmart that do not contain corny additives and none of them are meat.

Anonymous said...

Bu sohbet sitesi tek kelimeyle Muhtes. Sohbet Etmek ve Arkadas, Olmak için Arad? Seçmenin Faydalar?

Anonymous said...

Hello to you all! I'm exited to have joined this forum and am looking forward to contributing.

My interests are wide and varied but I guess my real passion is for music. I love a wide variety such as
Faithless, The Smiths, Enigma, The Cure & The Mission.

I'm always on the lookout for new places to download new music and the best place I have come across is
[url=http://www.iomoio.com/index.php?pid=3140]Iomoio[/url]. Their music is only 15 cents a track so you can save a real fortune. And it's legal!

Anyway, looking to make more posts soon.....

Martin Rolph (Oval) said...

Great post. I've recently become allergic to citric acid and this info has helped a lot.
Sounds pretty rare though. My doctor who specializes in allergies says he's never heard of it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana, I'm curious as to how you use the list. Do you avoid all foods with citric acid, even if they contain .1 grams per 100 grams. I would love to know what fruits and vegetables you do eat. Thank you so much in advance.

grace said...

I've recently developed a citric acid allergy ho hum
I am able to tolerate some .1 so far so this is what I eat as of now;
Eggs sautéed spinach roasted cubed sweet potato for breakfast most mornings
Salad with carrots cukes zucchini sugar snap peas for dressing avocado and chobani plain yogurt mixed
Questions:
Is quinoa okay?
Anyone find a wine ok?
Any hard liquor ok?
Thanks in advance!

grace said...

Are there any teas okay?
Thanks

Diana Troldahl said...

Hi Grace, yes, plain black tea is ok, as are any herbals unless they have a fruit component. Earl Grey tea has bergamot in it, which is a kind of citrus (there is an herb bergamot which is not citrus, known as bee balm and that is ok) Most hard liquors are fine, just avoid mixes that might have fruit or ctric acid Quinoa is fine, as are all grains. mature beans (like those used in bean soup, baked beans etc) have some citric acid naturally, but some people can tolerate them up to a point.
Wines are kind of a crap shoot. I can only tell by trying them.

Beer's the same. Most wine and beer companies don;t list ingredients, but we have had good luck calling the beer company directly. Citric acid is sometimes added to wine to adjust flavor, and some beers use lemon or orange peel which I react to badly.

The cheaper the wine, I think the more likely to have the citric acid, but it is not 100% the rule. I have been lucky so far. :-}

Safe fruits for me are apple, sweet cherries, pears, grapes, asian pears, dates. Figs were ok when I tried them, too. All veggies seem fine except for tomatillos (a kind of gooseberry) and of course tomatoes. If I am craving a lemony taste, Rhubarb is safe, as is lemon verbena, sorrel and hibiscus. I also use sumac which has a very nice lemony flavor, from oxalic acid rather than citric acid. There are some lovely herbal teas with lemon balm, hibiscus and lemon verbena in them, and they are safe.
Be certain to read ingredients and you can develop a wider safe pantry.