What is Calcium disodium EDTA?

Calcium Disodium EDTA

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What Is Calcium Disodium EDTA?

Calcium disodium EDTA is a white, odorless, crystalline powder, with a faint, salty taste. In the food industry, it is commonly used a preservative and sequestrant.


The full scientific name is Calcium disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetate.

It is a chelating agent, meaning that it binds to metals. When the metals are bound (or sequestered), they are prevented from taking part in chemical reactions that would lead to colour or flavour deterioration. For example, when used in canned foods, such as lima beans, it prevents the beans from darkening because the iron ions and other metals found in the canning water are bound by the additive and cannot participate in other reactions.1 Calcium disodium EDTA is made from formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and Ethylenediamine

Common Uses:

Calcium disodium EDTA is widely used and is becoming one of the most common organic pollutants.2

Besides its use as a food additive, it is used in the textile and paper industries. It is used to improve stability in pharaceutical products, detergents, shampoos, soaps, argricultural chemical sprays, contact lens cleaners and cosmetics. It is used in medical laboratories and dentist offices.

Calcium disodium EDTA has been approved in the U.S. for use in chelation therapy. Chelation therapy helps to remove heavy metals from the body and is used to treat lead poisoning and radiation exposure.

As a food additive, it helps to prevent colour or flavour deterioration. In soft drinks containing ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate, EDTA helps to prevent the formation of benzene which is a known carcinogen.

Calcium Disodium EDTA in Mayonaisse

It inhibits rancidity (disagreeable odor or taste of decomposing oils or fats) in salad dressings, mayonnaise, sauces, and sandwich spreads.

Foods that may contain Calcium disodium EDTA include:4

  • Pickled cabbage and cucumbers
  • Canned potatoes
  • Cooked and canned shrimp, clams and crabmeat
  • Canned beans
  • Canned mushrooms
picture of ingredient list containing calcium sodium edta

Calcium Sodium EDTA

Calcium Disodium EDTA Side Effects / Health Issues:

Calcium disodium EDTA is on the FDA priority list of food additives to be studied for mutagenic, teratogenic, subsacute, and reproductive effects.3 In other words, the FDA wants to study it further to see if it is associated with birth defects, cancer or reproductive problems.

Most of the references I’ve been able to find seem to indicate that Calcium disodium EDTA is safe in small amounts found in prescription medicine, eye drops and food preservatives. However, there is a risk that it could cause cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, low blood pressure, skin problems, and fever. It is not safe to consume more than 3 grams per day. Too much can cause kidney damage, low calcium levels and even death.5

E Number:

The E number of Calcium disodium EDTA is 385.


[1] Health Canada Definition of Codes for Food Additives

[2] Zhiwen Yuan and Jeanne M. VanBriesen. Environmental Engineering Science. May/June 2006, 23(3): 533-544. doi:10.1089/ees.2006.23.533

[3] College Of Health and Human Sciences, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

[4] FDA 21CFR172.120: Calcium disodium EDTA

[5] EDTA: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD



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Posted in Food Additives
24 comments on “What is Calcium disodium EDTA?
  1. Purabi Naha says:

    This is such an useful article. I loved reading this post! Wish you a very happy new year in advance!

  2. Cher says:

    I have had anaphylactic allergic reaction to this and get blisters in my mouth, nose drips, hives.

  3. Joni says:

    You don’t need to make your own mayonnaise. Just don’t buy the ones that use CD EDTA!!!!

    • Mark says:

      That’s a good point. There are definitely alternative brands that do not contain calcium disodium EDTA. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredient list for the products you buy.

  4. Karen says:

    Problem is they don’t always taste great. I bought an organic mayo all natural ingredients and we returned it. When I locate a recipe I will make my own.
    Good article. Any idea if it causes hyperactivity or behavioral problems in children?

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the comment Karen.

      I have not read about any links between calcium sodium EDTA and hyperactivity in children but I’m certainly not expert. There are additives (ref azo dyes, sodium benzoate) that may be linked to hyperactivity.

      I’ve been meaning to post my mayo recipe. I guess I need to stop procrastinating and get to it.

  5. Tink Thank says:

    After a series of heart attacks and a triple bypass, the M.D.s put me on statins and a number of other drugs. Heart disease runs in my family so my future wasn’t looking good. I did a lot of research and started a daily oral chelation regimen using calcium disodium EDTA and quit all other treatments, ALLl of them. I avoid egg yolks but otherwise eat as I please. I don’t exercise. It has been 9 years and my cardiovascular system is in better shape than it had been in the years prior to my surgery, I have suffered no ill effects at all and I feel quite healthy for my age. If EDTA “sat” in my digestive system as has been claimed, I would be as big as a boxcar. If vitamins and minerals were depleted to an extent that daily multivitamin & mineral supplements could not replace, there would have been related issues by now. There have been none. Statistically, I should have been back to the cardiac unit by now as I am sure most, if not all,l of my former fellow patients have been. Understand that the cardiac industry is a mega billion dollar industry. The claims against oral chelation come from the top and most M.D.s must follow consensus or risk liability. Multi billion dollar industries ALWAYS protect themselves with both propaganda and lobbyists. If it works, don’t fix it, so I’ll continue with my EDTA therapy of appx. 1kg/yr

  6. Harley Simms says:

    Karen, I do not believe this would have any effect on the behaviour of children as it does not affect the hormonal balances or the production of any chemicals.

    Tink Thank…all I can say is that you are lucky, and it is almost definitely not the EDTA that is preventing cardiac recurrence. Not to say it is definitely not doing you good, I have not done enough research on chelation to say it is a myth, but quitting all other treatments is definitely a risky move.

    As an note of interest, Diasodium EDTA is also used as an additive in Pathology to prevent blood from clotting in the collection tubes, so while overdose may lead to a reduction in essential metals, it may also lead to an increase in bleeding and bruising.

  7. Beth says:

    Thanks for info! We found out my daughter is allergic to EDTA after she drank Sierra Mist! She has had Sprite throughout her life–but her first try of this soft drink lead to horrific hives! We ended up in ER-as a mom it was so scary! It was WORSE than her allergic reaction to penicillin! ER had no idea-we did Benadryl & they went away. A couple days later at her cousin’s house she had Sierra Mist again–WOW! A family member who does medical research discovered the Sprite/Sierra Mist difference. We also learned that Fresca also contains EDTA! I now hear it is in cosmetics & such. I truly read labels now & wish I could find a detailed list of EDTA products! Thanks for this article!

    • Martha says:

      Hi! I read your post about your daughter being allergic to EDTA. I recently found out I am also allergic to it! Have you found any resources that help you stay away from EDTA?

  8. monire says:

    hi i want to know how much of this matrial need for do cheliating?

  9. GTFO! says:

    In other words, the FDA is testing this poison on us to see if it does what they intend, soft kill. The FDA approves THEN tests on the general public!!
    My boyfriend works for dunkin donuts and ate nothing but dunkin for 4 months. Ended up in the hospital with kidney stones. Come to find out EDTA causes crystals in the lungs and kidneys. I also worked there and ate there and almost immediately came up with bruises all over my body. The EDTA sucked the iron right out of me. I won’t even talk about what it did to my colon. Stay clear of the FDA and EDTA if you want to live.

  10. Martha says:

    So glad to hear people talk about EDTA. I have just found out I am allergic to it. Are there any resources that you know to help manage this allergy? It is in sooo many things from food, clothes, cleaning product, lotions, make up etc.

  11. Alaine says:

    So many replies about what not to eat. My sister in law is allergic to EDTA and is having trouble finding foods that are safe to eat. Any advice? Also- shampoos, soaps, cleaning products
    Has anyone made a list of healthy items

  12. Alaine says:

    Just found out sister in law is allergic to EDTA. Does anyone have suggestions for foods that do not contain EDTA- as well as shampoo

  13. de nicola says:

    I used to be a chemical engineer years ago (I am currently retired).
    Any time I was formulating products including EDTA Na salts I had a terrible rash occuring immediatly after dermal contact with the powder if I didn’t put on protection gloves. I can’t understand why cosmetic industries are still using such a compound in their soaps… with a labelling reading “dermatologically tested” !

  14. Luz U says:


    This is scary. We use can beans but I have noticed this ingredient in other foods. How can you measure the 3 grams? How do you know the amount contained on the product? what if your meal contains more then the 3 grams?

    I appreciate a reply. Thanks!

  15. Chuck says:

    Your article says it’s unsafe to consume more than 3 grams of calcium edta per day but offers no insight as to how much of it is in any of these foods…

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the comment. You made a good point, but how much really depends on the food. In the U.S., the FDA regulates the amount calcium disodium EDTA that can be added to foods. Some examples:
      – In mayonnaise, the limit is 75 parts per million.
      – In canned potatoes, the limit is 110 parts per million.
      So, as a food additive, there really isn’t that much calcium disodium EDTA added.

      Here is a link to the the FDA regulations:

  16. Nil Ratan Dasgupta says:

    Dear Author, The article presented by you is very helpful for each and every lives as well as develop the awareness to lead the life properly and to run the related industry properly. Thanks Nil Ratan Das gupta, Head of Marketing, & R.D

11 Pings/Trackbacks for "What is Calcium disodium EDTA?"
  1. […] Thankfully, this is not in the cuisine kit, as the FDA want to study Calcium disodium EDTA for “mutagenic, teratogenic, subsacute, and reproductive effects.” Sounds […]

  2. […] to eat it a year later, anyway. And some of those preservatives are pretty scary: A quick search on calcium disodium EDTA, for example, turned up a wealth of information, none of which made me want to put it in my body. […]

  3. […] fantastic that the FDA (as far as I know) has not done enough research on links to birth defects, cancer, or reproductive problems. Do you want to be the guinea […]

  4. […] flavor” mean? Immediately reaching for my laptop, I nearly dropped the bottle on the floor. Calcium Disodium EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a food additive commonly used in things like pickled canned […]

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  6. […] fat film taking over my entire mouth) or the ingredient list (mostly a bunch of fats, sugar and calcuim disodium edta, a pollutant and chelating agent which sounds both natural and healthy). Yuk. However, it’s […]

  7. […] flavor” mean? Immediately reaching for my laptop, I nearly dropped the bottle on the floor. Calcium Disodium EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a food additive commonly used in things like pickled canned […]

  8. […] to eat it a year later, anyway. And some of those preservatives are pretty scary: A quick search on calcium disodium EDTA, for example, turned up a wealth of information, none of which made me want to put it in my body. […]

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  10. […] may be time to reconsider your purchasing habits. Canned beans often have additives like salt and calcium disodium EDTA, making them less healthful than their dried counterparts. Not only that, canned products are […]

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