Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate

Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate

Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate is an antimicrobial food preservative. It prevents contamination and spoilage from a wide range of bacteria, yeasts and moulds.

Other names for Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate include:

  • Lauric arginate ethyl ester
  • Lauramide ethyl ester
  • LAE
  • INS No. 243
  • Lauric arginate (Trade name)
  • Mirenat®

The E Number for Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate is E243.

Description

Ethyl lauroyl arginate is a synthetic chemical derived from lauric acid, L-arginine and ethanol. It is patented by the Spanish company Grupo Lamirsa.

It is typically found as a white powder. This can present some technical difficulties in food processing because it often needs to be applied evenly and in low doses. To make it easier to work with, liquid forms can be created by dissolving it in food grade solvents such as Glycerol.

How Does It Work?

It is classified as a cationic surfactant. A surfactant is basically a soap molecule where one end is attracted to fats and oils while the other end is attracted to water. The end of the molecule that is attracted to water contains a positively charged ion (a cation).

As a preservative, it acts to break down the membranes in bacteria, yeast, or mould cells. Once the membranes have been broken, the cells die.

Common Uses

Recently Health Canada released a statement indicating they plan on approving Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate for use.

The Bureau of Chemical Safety would like to advise you of the following update on “Food Additives”:

Notice of Proposal to Enable the Use of a New Food Additive, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate, as a Preservative in Various Standardized and Unstandardized Foods

Applications may include:

  • water-based non-alcoholic beverages,
  • soups,
  • cheese products,
  • sauces and dips,
  • ketchup,
  • pie fillings, and
  • meat, poultry and fish products

Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate is currently approved in the U.S. where it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS)1. It is also approved for use in Australia and New Zealand2. Although it has been assigned an E number, it is not yet approved in Europe3.

Side Effects / Health Issues

Most studies seem to conclude that, when ingested by humans, ethyl lauroyl arginate will be broken down to products of normal metabolism. As a result, it does not accumulate in the body and does not pose a long term risk.

When reviewed by the European Food Safety panel, ingestion of ethyl lauroyl arginate produced noticeable effects on the white blood cell counts of rats. Based on these results, the panel set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) level. However, when the estimated total exposure based on European diet was calculated, they found that the ADI would likely be exceeded.

References

  1. FDA GRAS Notice for Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate
  2. Australia Food Standards List of Additives
  3. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers

Further Reading

Consultation Document on Health Canada’s Proposal to Enable the Use of a New Food Additive, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate, as a Preservative in Various Standardized and Unstandardized Foods

Food Quality and Safety: The Lowdown on Lauric Arginate

Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food on a request from the Commission related to an application on the use of ethyl lauroyl arginate as a food additive

NutraFoods: Mirenat new antimicrobial based on LAE

Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Preservative

Indigotine

What is Indigotine?

Indigotine is an organic compound commonly used as a reddish blue food dye. It can also be referred to using the names:

  • Indigo Carmine
  • FD&C Blue #2
  • CI Food Blue 1
  • CI (1975) No. 73015

Description

The chemical formula for indigotine is C16H8N2Na2O8S2.

Historically, indigo was produced from natural products. The ancient Phoenicians first began to produce indigo dyes from the excrement of sea snails. As you might expect, each snail would only produce a very small amount of dye. This meant that the dye was very rare, and materials coloured with it were very expensive.

Later discoveries allowed the dyes to be produced from a variety of plants. Most plants used to produce indigo are shrubs of species Indigofera.

Synthetic Production of Indigotine

Indigo (or indigo paste) is synthetically produced by first using aniline (which is produced from benzene) and formaldehyde to create molecules called N -phenylglycine. These molecules are then fused in a molten mixture of sodamide and sodium and potassium hydroxides under ammonia pressure. The indigo is then isolated and purified.
Once the indigo has been produced, it is heated in the presence of sulphuric acid. Indigotine is then isolated and subjected to purification procedures.

Common Uses

Indigotine is currently approved for use in the U.S.1, Canada2 and the E.U.3.
There aren’t that many foods that need to be dyed blue. The common use cases are just what you might expect: confectionaries (candies), cereal, and other “junk” food. Two examples are:

Non-Food Uses

It is used as a pH indicator. It is blue at pH 11.4 and yellow at 13.0.

It is used in obstetrics to help detect amniotic fluid leaks.

It is used during surgery to highlight the urinary tract and help to detect leaks.

Health Issues / Side Effects

Indigotine is actually made from some nasty chemicals. Workers who handle it do need to be cautious. It can be harmful to the respiratory tract if inhaled, and it can irritate skin and eyes.

A lot has been written on the internet describing it’s adverse effects. The list of further reading articles at the end of this post includes some links. However, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, there is no evidence of any toxicity, including carcinogenicity.

E Number

The E number for indigotine is E132. Other blue dyes include Brilliant Blue (E133) and Spirulina Extract (no E number).

References

  1. FDA List of Color Additives Approved for Use in Human Food
  2. List of Food Additives Approved in Canada
  3. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers

Further Reading

What is That Ingredient – Blue #2 

Wikipedia – Indigo Carmine

Wikipedia – Indigotin

Wikipedia – Hexaplex trunculus

Saudi Armaco World – Millennia of Murex

Hawkins – Watts (chemical producer / supplier)

Be Food Smart

Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients

Fruit and Vegetable Storage Chart

Fruit and Vegetable Storage Chart

Does it matter if you store certain fruits and vegetables together? What should be stored in the fridge, and what should be stored at room temperature? How long can your produce be stored before it goes bad?

Hopefully this fruit and vegetable storage chart will help you answer these questions. Print it out and stick it on your fridge for quick reference.

For even more detail check out the new “Storing Fresh Fruit and Vegetables” e-book. In the book, you’ll find recipes, tips, and the best methods for storing more than 30 common fruits and vegetables.

In 2002, a report released by the University of Arizona and the United States Department of Agriculture indicated American families threw out an average of 470 pounds of food per year. That’s about 14 percent of all food brought into the home. Every day, more than half a pound of produce was wasted. The annual cost of this waste was found to be $600!

Fruit and Vegetable Storage Chart

Posted in Food Storage, Fresh Food

Is Potassium Benzoate Dangerous?

Is Potassium Benzoate Dangerous?

What is Potassium Benzoate?

Potassium Benzoate, is a preservative that is used to keep beverages fresh and safe. It protects against yeasts, moulds, and certain types of bacteria. It is commonly found in soft drinks, salted margarine, olives, sauces and relishes, jams and jellies, pastry and pie fillings, and low fat salad dressings.

What are the Possible Health Issues?

When exposed to heat and light, some products that contain both potassium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may produce benzene. This is a concern because benzene is a known carcinogen. It causes cancer in humans.

Do the Claims Against Potassium Benzoate Make Sense?

To answer this question, we need to look at the chemical compositions of potassium benzoate, ascorbic acid, and benzene:

  • Potassium Benzoate = C7H5KO2
  • Ascorbic Acid = C6H8O6
  • Benzene = C6H6

Now, if you’re like me and your chemistry knowledge is fuzzy at best, what this means is that potassium benzoate is composed of 7 carbon atoms (C), 5 hydrogen atoms (H), 1 potassium atom (K), and 2 oxygen atoms (O).
So, if the claims are accurate, we would expect that:
C7H5KO2 + C6H8O6 + (heat and light) -> C6H6 + some other stuff
In other words, do the potassium benzoate and ascorbic acid contain the right kinds of atoms to produce benzene? Obviously, the answer is yes, but there is a bit more to it than that.

Most of the time, chemicals are happy being just what they are. The bonds between the atoms are strong, and something needs to happen to break these bonds and force the atoms to recombine in new structures.

In this case, we have the possibility of heat and/or light affecting the molecules. And, as it turns out, we can also add trace amounts copper or iron found in the water (or from cans) to our equations.

What we find is that:

  1. The ascorbic acid reacts with the copper in the water to produce copper ions.
  2. A copper ion + benzoate ion, react to give a new copper ion + CO2 + benzene. (This reaction is heat sensitive, and so proceeds more rapidly at higher temperatures.)
  3. The process continues until either the ascorbic acid, copper, or benzoate has been used up.

Since there are usually only trace ammounts of free copper ions in solution, it’s going to take a long time to make even ppm amounts of Benzene.

Also note that strongly acidic conditions promote the formation of benzoic acid, in solution, instead of benzoate ions. Therefore, this reaction will probably not occur because the benzoic acid is not susceptible to being reduced by this method.

Conclusions

My chemistry knowledge is definitely rusty, and a lot of this almost seems like magic to me. However, in my opinion, the formation of benzene is definitely possible. It may be produced is very tiny amounts, but any amount is probably too much. Who knows what the cumulative effect might be?

Limiting the amount of canned soft drinks containing potassium benzoate (or sodium benzoate since the reactions are the same) would probably be a really wise decision.

What’s your opinion? Does anyone have a better understanding of the chemistry involved>

References

  1. FDA Questions and Answers Regarding Benzene in Soft Drinks
  2. US National Library of Medicine
  3. UK Food Guide

Links

If you want to read more, try the following links…

  1. Fireworks ingredients
  2. Potassium Benzoate Supplier – FBC Industries Inc.

Canadian Food Additive Dictionary
FDA Food Additive Status List
UK Foods Standards Agency, Approved Food Additives
Food Standards – Australia and New Zealand

Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Preservative

Cream of Tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate)

Picture of a spoonful of Cream of Tartar
Picture of a spoonful of Cream of Tartar

Cream of Tartar

Cream of Tartar

If you’ve ever done any baking, I’m sure you’ve heard of cream of tartar.  But, what exactly is this stuff?  Cream of tartar is a fine white powder that is a by product of the wine making process. It has many culinary and household applications.

Description:

Cream of tartar is a white, odorless powder. More technically known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, it is a byproduct of the winemaking process. The powder forms inside wine barrels during fermentation. The chemical formula is KC4H5O6

Common Uses:

Cream of Tartar can be used to give a creamier texture to sugary things like cake frosting, sugary syrups, chocolates and candies. Without cream of tartar, the sugar will crystallize.

Cream of tartar can also be used to increase the heat tolerance and volume of beaten egg whites. You will often find it in meringues.

Sometimes, cream of tartar may be used to stabilize whip creams.

It may also be used in the production of carmine dye.

Health Issues / Side Effects:

There are two potential health issues associated with cream of tartar.  However,since it is usually used in such tiny amounts, the risks are probably minimal.

  1. It has an extremely high potassium content.  It contains 495 mg  of potassium per teaspoon. An average daily requirement for potassium is 3500 mg.  So, eople with kidney disease or people that take medication that decreases the ability of their kidneys to excrete potassium may experience issues.
  2. It may produce a laxative effect.

E Number:

The E number for potassium hydrogen tartrate is 336. It is classified as an acidity regulator.

Notes:

Homemade Baking Powder

Homemade baking powder can be made by combining baking soda and cream of tartar as the active acid ingredient.

To mix your own baking powder, combine 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Play Dough

I recently had to make some playdough for my son’s kindergarten class.  That recipe also called for cream of tartar.  In this case, it is used to prevent the salt from crystallizing.  It helps keep the play dough soft.

Other Uses for Cream of Tartar

Cream of Tartar can be used to clean brass and copper cookware.

References:

  1. The Spice House
  2. ParentMap.com – Putting Play Dough to the Test
  3. Baking Bites
  4. Fooducate
Posted in Baking, Food Additives, Ingredients

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