What Is Calcium Benzoate?
Calcium benzoate (E213) is the calcium salt of benzoic acid, a natural compound found in some fruits including cranberries, prunes, and apples. It is also synthetically produced for commercial use. As a food preservative, calcium benzoate helps prevent spoilage by reducing the growth of yeasts, moulds, and bacteria in products.
Applications in the Food Industry
Calcium benzoate is a versatile food additive with numerous applications across the food and beverage industry. Some common uses include:
Acidic Foods: Calcium benzoate is often employed in acidic food products, such as salad dressings, sauces, and carbonated soft drinks, where it helps maintain product quality by inhibiting microbial growth.
Jams and Jellies: This preservative is utilised in jams and jellies to prevent the development of moulds and yeasts, preserving the freshness of these products.
Fruit Juices: Calcium benzoate is used in fruit juices to extend their shelf life, keeping them safe for consumption over a more extended period.
Pickles and Sauerkraut: In pickled products like cucumbers and sauerkraut, calcium benzoate assists in maintaining their taste and texture.
Is Calcium Benzoate Safe for Consumption?
While calcium benzoate is generally recognised as safe (GRAS) when used according to good manufacturing practices, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be sensitive to calcium benzoate or benzoic acid. Allergic reactions could include skin rashes, hives, or respiratory symptoms. If you suspect an allergy, it's crucial to monitor ingredient labels and consult a healthcare professional.
Genotoxicity: Some studies have suggested potential genotoxic effects of benzoic acid derivatives in laboratory settings. However, these findings remain controversial and require further research to establish a clear link to human health.
Regulatory Oversight: The regulatory status of calcium benzoate may vary by region. In some areas, such as the European Union, it is permitted for use, while in others, it may be subject to restrictions or prohibitions.
In the European Union, calcium benzoate is approved as a food additive (E213) with specific usage limits to ensure consumer safety. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) evaluates the safety of food additives, including calcium benzoate, and sets acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels at 0-5 mg/kg of body weight.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers calcium benzoate as a GRAS substance when used in compliance with regulatory standards.
EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings (FAF). "Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of benzoic acid (E 210), sodium benzoate (E 211), potassium benzoate (E 212), and calcium benzoate (E 213) as food additives." EFSA Journal 10.7 (2012): 2763.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Food Additive Status List." 2023.
National Library of Medicine. "Compound Summary: Benzoic Acid." PubChem, 2022.
P. Montuschi, et al. "In vivo genotoxicity of sodium benzoate." Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2007.
Codex Alimentarius. "General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database."