Citric acid is one of the most common food additives in the world.
When you see citric acid on ingredients labels, you may assume that it sounds very natural and safe. But you may be shocked to find out that it is produced using toxic mold!
Although citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits, it’s too expensive to mass produce, so what you see in products is pretty much always synthetic versions produced using the black mold Aspergillus niger!
Even if companies claim to use natural sources for their citric acid, such as fermented cassava, it still uses mold (source). It’s usually produced using genetically modified black mold grown on GMO corn syrup.
Citric acid is added to so many products and supplements; it is used for flavoring and preserving foods, and also to stabilize or preserve medicines and personal care products, and as a cleaning agent. Be aware that calcium citrate is sourced from citric acid.
“No scientific studies exist investigating the safety of manufactured citric acid when consumed in large amounts for long periods.
Still, there have been reports of sickness and allergic reactions to the additive. One report found joint pain with swelling and stiffness, muscular and stomach pain, as well as shortness of breath in four people after they consumed foods containing manufactured citric acid.
These same symptoms were not observed in people consuming natural forms of the acid, such as lemons and limes. Researchers acknowledged that they couldn’t prove the manufactured citric acid was responsible for those symptoms but recommended that its use in foods and beverages be further studied.
In either case, the scientists suggested that the symptoms were most likely related to the mold used to produce the citric acid rather than the compound itself.” –Healthline
Despite all this, citric acid is “generally recognized as safe” but that doesn’t man much. Also, some people claim that because the mold is grown under controlled conditions, it may not be as harmful. But we don’t actually know what kind of quality control they use. I’ve seen countless accounts of people having reactions to citric acid, and it’s important to remember that people can be sensitive or allergic to anything.
There is also this scientific paper: “Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports.”
Mercury contamination is also a risk. Studies show the three most common foods contaminated by mercury are high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, and citric acid.
News headlines warned about the mercury content in high fructose corn syrup after a 2009 study published in Environmental Health analyzed the level of mercury contamination from the chlor-alkali process. Citric acid is processed in the same way.
Here is a post I shared on Facebook that explains the MCA form of citric acid, and one instance that the natural form is used.
For all these reasons, I avoid citric acid at all costs. Someone asked me if that meant going without some types of products, but fortunately I have been able to find any product I need, without citric acid. It can be done! Here is my “master list” post with all my favorite products. Also check out my snack post and posts on diapers/ wipes.
To check out new and additional posts, please visit and “like” my Facebook page. Thanks!
***Thank you for visiting Clean Green Toxicant Free! I started this site simply because I want to help people and share information. I dig deep and seek the most truly non-toxic products, without bias. I am not paid to write anything and I don’t sell anything. In 2022 I became an Amazon Associate, which does NOT bias my recommendations. I may earn small dividends from purchases made after clicking my clearly labeled amazon affiliate links (even if you don’t buy those specific items), which helps cover the costs I pay to maintain this site. More info is on my About page.***