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Is Preserving Your Grocery Products Destroying Your Health?


A bowl of lemons and limes.

You may already know that citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits.  Fruits such as oranges and grapefruit contain natural citric acid, but you’d find larger amounts in lemons and limes.  Citric acid is what gives these fruits their tart, and somewhat sour, taste.


Citric acid can serve as a natural disinfectant, which is why some people use lemon juice to remove stuck on food from their stovetops and remove soap scum or hard water stains from their faucets and showers.  I’ve done it and it works great. 

The problem is that when you see the term “citric acid” on an ingredient list, you’re not getting the naturally occurring citric acid from fruit.  In fact, the actual source could very well be making you sick, and you don’t even realize it!

An isle of junk food at a grocery store.

The first question to ask is WHY is citric acid used?  As mentioned above, citric acid is a great way to clean and disinfect; but, if it’s used to clean and disinfect, then why is it in food?  Citric acid is used to enhance the flavor of certain food items (such as candy) and as a preservative for all kinds of food items. 

If you eat chips, hummus, oatmeal, crackers, candy or frozen meals there is a strong chance those foods contain citric acid.  If you drink soda (especially diet soda), juices or energy drinks, you’ll likely find citric acid there as well.  It has even been used in wine, beer, coffee and dairy.  Even your vitamins and supplements stand a good chance of containing citric acid. 

Do you use cosmetics or beauty products, such as bath bombs or body butter? Chances are they contain citric acid as well.  

A man in a hazmat suit.

The next question to ask is WHY is citric acid bad if it’s naturally occurring in citrus fruits?  In the late 1700’s, citric acid for use as a flavor enhancer or preservative was derived from lemon juice.  However, the process was expensive and time-consuming, so an alternative source had to be found.


Imagine someone comes to your home, wearing a hazmat suit, and says you have a black mold infestation.  Your first thought would be your health and the health of your family, right?  And yet, that’s exactly where Manufactured Citric Acid (also known as MCA) is derived. 

It was discovered just before 1920 that by using Aspergilus niger (a form of black mold) and a fermentation process involving sugar, that citric acid could be made in the lab.  Why?  Because Aspergilus niger is very abundant and the process to create citric acid this way is much cheaper. 

In fact, MCA is one of the most common additives in the world.  70% of MCA produced is in food products, 20% in pharmaceutical/cosmetic products, and 10% in cleaning and disinfecting products.  Besides being a known allergen, a derivative of this process produces Ochratoxin A (OTA), which is a known carcinogen.  And yet, the FDA placed MCA under the category GRAS (generally referred to as safe) without any case studies. 

Someone with stomach pain.

Because MCA still has GRAS status, it is widely used today.  The National Library of Medicine has performed several case studies and there have been other studies performed as well.  It’s no secret that mold can trigger allergies (at best), but it can also cause a variety of inflammatory reactions in the body. 

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions?  How about arthritis, IBS, or fibromyalgia?  Mold has been shown to interfere with DNA repair systems and has been thought to be an underlying cause of symptoms such as joint pain, stomach pain, swelling, muscle pain, and shortness of breath.  Most of the case study participants could tolerate citrus fruits with no flare ups to their symptoms, but felt the effects of the synthetic citric acid, especially because it is so prevalent in the American diet. 

A women examining an ingredient label while shopping.

The final question to ask is WHAT can I do to protect myself?  While no study has “conclusively” proven that all the symptoms mentioned above are due to MCA, the strain of Aspergilus niger and the Ochratoxin A increase the likelihood significantly. 

It is so important that you read ingredients labels – of your food, drinks, cosmetics, beauty products and cleaning solutions.  Look for words such as citric acid, sodium citrate, preservatives, natural ingredients, or flavoring.  Chances are, these ingredients have been derived from the fermentation process, and were not sourced from citrus fruits. 

Our company creates whipped body butter in small batches.  We know that some companies (even small businesses like ours) use synthetically made citric acid to preserve their final products.  We have never, nor will ever, used synthetic preservatives such as citric acid in our products.  Some customers have asked us to create bath bombs as part of our skincare line.  If we find that we can create a quality product without the use of these dangerous preserving agents, we will gladly do so.  Until then, we will follow through on our commitment to provide only natural, safe and effective ingredients for you and your family – just the way God intended. 

Yahwehs Naturals wood plaque logo.

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