What is Acetic Anhydride?


In the food industry, acetic anhydride is used as a starch modifying agent.


It is a clear liquid with a pungent vinegar-like odor.

The chemical formula is (CH3CO)2O.

acetic anhydride composition
Acetic Anhydride Composition

It was first discovered in 1852. Interestingly, the French chemist who produced was Charles Frédéric Gerhardt. Gerhardt died in 1856 at the age of 39. He was poisoned by his chemicals while performing an experiment.

Acetic Anhydride Uses:

It is used in the production of aspirin, acetaminophen and other pharmaceuticals.  As a food additive, it is used in the production of modified starches.  Modified starches have improved stability against heat and mild acids. They are then used to thicken foods. They are also used as stabilizers, or emulsifiers.

Acetic anhydride was used in the conversion of cellulose to cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is a component of photographic film.  With digital photography now mainstream, this may now not be as common.

As a side note, it is also used in the production of heroin from morphine.

Common Foods Containing Acetic Anhydride:

Acetic anhydride is used in many products, but mostly in frozen foods, ice-cream, frozen cakes, dry cake mixes, flavoured toppings and sauces, mayonnaises, snacks and muesli bars.

E Number:

The E number of Acetic Anhydride is 1420.

Further Reading / Sources

  1. World Health Organization Safety Evaulation

No related content found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *