What is Citric Acid? A Hidden GMO

What is Citric Acid

I have seen this ingredient in many products at the food store, including the organic section. Sometimes the list of ingredients looks perfect to me, until I get to the last one: Citric Acid.

That ingredient always gave me pause. So after looking at my thousandth organic salsa, organic hummus, and every other snack known to man – I became frustrated! What the heck is this weird ingredient? This is why I am writing this post, to see what’s the deal with this all-too-common additive.

In my head I picture lemon juice…and I wasn’t too far off, but it has an ugly secret.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is found in so many things and is used in so many processes: from shampoo to soda to cheese to beer making to candy to medicine to varnish remover. Citric acid is derived from an acid found in many citrus fruits – it is quite tart, which is why it is used in sour candies and gummies to emulate the flavor of real sour lemon or lime. It is also used to balance the pH of food and preserve it for longer periods of time.

Citric acid is usually found as a white, powdery substance which has been described to taste similar to lemon juice.

So why is citric acid used? An article from the TLC website explains:

Citric acid, an organic acid found in many fruits, especially limes, lemons and grapefruits…increases the acidity of a microbe’s environment, making it harder for bacteria and mold to survive and reproduce. It can also be used to bind to and neutralize fat-degrading metal ions that get into food via processing machinery.” (source)

How is it Processed?

Okay, so it comes from fruit, right? Wrong. Citric acid is made synthetically by the fermentation of glucose. Say wha?! Then I came across this tidbit:

“The ability of the mold Aspergillus niger to produce citric acid as a byproduct of metabolism was discovered by American food chemist James Currie in 1917. The process of cultivating A. niger and allowing it to metabolize sucrose or glucose to yield citric acid proved efficient and inexpensive. Once it was possible to produce a seemingly endless supply of citric acid, companies like Pfizer and Citrique Belge began producing it on an industrial scale. This same technique is used to produce citric acid today.” (source)

So guess what this means? With a little digging, I came across many things that said citric acid can potentially be produced with the aid of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The process of making this citric acid utilizes sugar beets and maize, which are some of the biggest offenders of Genetically Modified foods here in the States. Also, there are some genetically modified strains of A. Niger – but I am not sure to what extent these strains are being used to produce citric acid in our food suppy. But companies aren’t required to label that, even in USDA Organic Label foods. (source)

Citric acid is now a food science, no longer coming from the delicious grapefruit, lemon, or lime. Big companies are now using GM-products to get higher yields since extracting from the actual citrus fruit is too expensive. Here is a list from the Non-GMO Project sharing common additives made with GM-processes:

 ”Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.” (source)

Don’t know what GMO’s are? Read this.

Should We Consume Citric Acid?

I personally will avoid Citric Acid (and have successfully avoided for about one year), since it is not required to be labeled as being produced with GM-processes and products. But if you are interested in using or consuming citric acid (such as for cheesemaking), really do your research and find a non-GMO based citric acid (it can be hard to come by).

Even if you buy organic, the citric acid in that organic food is most likely made with GM-products and processes unless explicitly labeled. When in doubt, call the company that manufactures that food and find out what they use. Or, better yet, make it homemade if possible!

The Take-Away

Due to some negative and downright extremely nasty comments from all over the internet, I have decided to add this part of the post to magnify the important take-aways (9/10/13).

Whether or not you agree that the end product of citric acid is anything but citric acid, the point of my post is that at least here in the States it is impossible to know what is in our food supply unless you grow it or raise it yourself. I personally think that people need to really start asking the tough questions, like “What am I putting into my body?” and “What the heck is in my food?”

Whether you believe the end product contains GMOs or not is irrelevant; our food industry is supporting Genetically Modified foods. They are messing with our food on a genetic level. I personally believe that God made our food the way it is on purpose, and I don’t need a scientist to splice it any which way.

This is another huge reason I avoid citric acid. I don’t want to support GMOs, and I’d much rather have a true, citrus fruit in my food.

Being educated about your food, is much different than being fearful of it.

Will  you continue to eat Citric Acid? Why or Why Not?

Sources: About.com: Citric Acid & What is Citric Acid, How Stuff Works: Citric Acid, TLC: Top 10 Most Common Ingredients in Fast Food, Non-GMO Project, FDA.gov, NIH.gov.
This post is a part Thank Good It’s Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursdays, Fight Back Fridays, DIY Linky.

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I am Katie P. - the girl behind Girl Meets Nourishment. I am a twenty-something who lives in Montana, I am a proud born and raised East Coast kid who moved out West toward the setting sun. In the time since I have trekked from coast to coast: I have acquired a degree in Psychology, an amazing husband who I love with all my heart, and wonderful new perspective on life & food. I love all things nourishing, (from the inside out), real, organic food, and unprocessed living. I am so happy you stopped by!

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89 Thoughts on “What is Citric Acid? A Hidden GMO

  1. We are teaching our 6 & 8 year old boys to read labels and have come across this many times. I also assumed it came from lemon juice and was fine, especially in the organic foods we buy. Thank you for posting this and we will be sure to watch out for it in the future.

    • Thanks Jane!

      I was shocked when I was researching this, but I am glad to know now. Hopefully someday everything will be labeled explicitly, it would take a lot of the guesswork out of eating healthy.

      Best of health!
      Katie

      • I have been allergic or intolerant to citric acid since 2008 and perhaps longer. Immediately after eating anything with citric acid, ascorbic acid or any other chemical substitute for vitamin C- I get blisters in my mouth and vomiting and diarrhea until I get it out of my system. It is becoming more and more prevalent all the time and it has gotten to the point that eating is a real challenge. Please help fight against GMOs and encourage proper food labeling. Some of us are really suffering!

        • Ladies I am at my starting point of being sick for the 7th week in a row. I jused ocean spray cranberry juice because I got a sudden bladder infection out of nowhere. Getting better so got 2nd bottle, it wasn’t ocean spray but the price was right and it was right beside ocean spray. I am legally blind, so was mad with myself for picking the wrong one, but thought, it’s the same thing right? I now have a very painful mouth and throat of blisters, spontaneous vomiting for no apparent reason and vicious d strips to the wc. Now I know why!I immediately looked at the label because nothing else was new in my diet and the only ingredient that glared at me was citric acid. I was dumbfounded. I am paying the price. I am in agony since last friday. Asthma is really bad, teeth are screaming at me and my tonsils? Yeah they are not happy with Momma! For valentines my partner brought Coca cola and fanta into the house, I couldn’t believe that for the first time it felt like I had a stomach ulcer after the C drink. So I switched to the f drink. Whoa! So sick. Looking back this a,m I realized this accumulation in me has been going on since 2007. I am SO sensitized to EVERYTHING now. What’s a girl to do? How do you detox and then start over? Thank you so much for this post. I have tears flowing down my face, the Drs tried to tell me nothings wrong I’m just one of THOSE (Nut job) patients with a simpering smirk. I knew damn fine I am not.

          • Hello Sheila,

            I am so sorry to hear about your discomfort and struggle! That sounds like no fun at all! I have a post here that I made for the new year that has some great detoxifying posts to get you started. It should arm you with what you need to take the first few steps. I hope that you feel better very soon!

            http://girlmeetsnourishment.com/104-tips-new-year-new-you/

            Katie

          • Suzie Zenker on April 12, 2014 at 5:59 am said:

            I understnd you pain…I just recently committed to laying down anything but organic goods for 30 days. This was a HUGE deal for me because prior to this I NEVER ate any vegetables and consumed pounds and pounds of sugar. By “accident” I met someone who’s doing a program called 30-days 2 Fit and decided to give it a whirl. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain…plus I figured I can do anything for 30-days. Amazing how much different I feel already, amazing!! For more information go to http://www.30days2fit.com, watch the video and go to the “Changing Lives” tab. I wish you good health and awakening as I’ve had…

  2. I could have sworn that I’ve read that if a product is labeled Organic then it is supposed to be free of GMO’s. I’m curious about this loophole.

  3. We try really hard to read labels and not consume citric acid. I use lemon juice instead of citric acid in all of our home canning recipes. However, I find it difficult to find food at the store that doesn’t contain citric acid. Items have to have it during preservation in order to have high enough acidity levels to be shelf stable. Unless I am capable of making ALL of our consumables (a goal we hope to someday reach, but impossible where we live) this is one I’m going to have to let go. I think there is a fine line between label reading and obsession, this one borders on obsession.

    We have to eat. I can’t produce everything we consume, so I have to decide between feeding my family a small amount (generally a Tablespoon per quart) of potentially GMO product, or not feed them any preserved foods that I have not made myself. Unless we completely change our diet to eat all fresh foods (I don’t have that kind of time all the time), we are more than likely going to have to consume it every now and again in the small quantities it is served to us. I have to take that chance, and the amount is so inconsequential, I’m willing to take that risk for now….

    • Hi Danielle,

      The point of my post is bring attention to the fact that the citric acid that is in food, including organic, contains GMO products. I believe it is completely up to you to choose what you feed your family. My husband and I try to only eat whole, fresh foods and avoid canned and preserved products as often as possible.

      I personally do not think wanting to learn about what is in our food supply is obsession, considering that it is not labeled. I write these posts to help others who want to learn more about what is in their food.

      Best of luck!
      Katie

      • We try to eat whole unprocessed food as well. My point of calling it an obsession is that the amount is incredibly negligible. It is generally LESS than a teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon per quart, not the tablespoon I specified earlier). I don’t see us being completely self sufficient, self-sustaining people anytime soon. I try to preserve and can all of the food I may need for a winter myself, however, lets face it, that isn’t always possible. To say you are going to avoid it at all costs is borderline obsession in my opinion. I don’t like that I occasionally may consume GM food, but I’m not going to stop buying the occasional jar of salsa or pound of cheese or any other commercially preserved food just because I may consume an incredibly tiny amount.
        Learning what is in our food supply is important, but avoiding GM food is almost impossible, as you have noted. There are tons of loopholes for organically labeled foods. Obviously my point is moot and I will stop beating a dead horse but avoiding a negligible amount of food is obsessive.

        • We can agree to disagree, thank you for sharing and I do wish you the best in all your ventures. :)

        • katherine on January 27, 2014 at 8:04 am said:

          I agree with how difficult it is to find whole, clean foods and while the amount of citric acid in any one product may be a very small amount, when that small amount is consumed from many different products, it adds up to being more than a small amount. I’d still rather be informed than not :-)

        • If it made you as sick as it does me you might have a different attitude. This I know…Six years ago when I started being intolerant to citric acid, ascorbic acid etc. there was very little on the internet as to what I was experiencing (mouth ulcers, swollen lips, vomiting and diarrhea, even swollen lymph nodes). Now I see many people experience a myriad of symptoms and it is certainly becoming more common. At this time reactions such as mine seem to be rare but I assure you- it will become more common. They are poisoning us with our food!

          • Msg/citric acid/free glutamates affect the body on a cellular level. If your body has difficulty contains the free glutamates, it isn’t necessarily about the quantity, although when you consider how many things contain it, one can get quite a load from ingesting several things in one meal. But as someone who has recently become aware of my issues with it, I can say that my health is much better now that I’ve learned how to avoid it.

          • Cathie – I don’t have as extreme symptoms as you do, but mine have consistently worsened as I’ve gotten older. You may have the same allergy as I (and it looks like some others in this thread) do. I recently was tested and discovered an allergy to aspergillus – a strain of this mold (aspergillus niger) is used to make citric acid. It along with other strains of that same mold is also used to make (among other things) corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, light beers, soy sauce, sake, and a myriad of other soy-based products. What was alarming to me is that after discovering that aspergillus was the sole item I was allergic to, and after asking my allergist if it was possible for it to have gotten into my food, she said that I shouldn’t worry about going down that path. But my gut told me that my crazy, seemingly unconnected, food intolerances and frequent lifelong sinus issues might actually have something to do with this. So I ignored her and Googled it anyway. There is shockingly little info online, but what I have found confirmed that this mold is in practically everything that’s packaged or bottled. Another horrible discovery is that the citric acid made from aspergillus niger is used as a ripening agent for many cheeses — but the FDA doesn’t require it to be listed on the label, so I’m flying blind there. My groceries have become a little pricier, but I’m attempting a month long cleanse of all of the foods and juices that contain or may contain any of the ingredients I’ve discovered. I’m curious to see how I feel after 30 days, and I desperately miss cheese. (Wish me luck!)

            Still, this alerts me to a related issue. Why is it that even the medical community whose sole purpose is to diagnose and treat people with allergy symptoms (chemical, food, or otherwise) isn’t thinking outside the box when it comes to bioengineered ingredients that have been added to our food? How disturbing is that?! My allergist told me what I was allergic to, but Google has been far more helpful to me in trying to avoid it. And Google didn’t cost me a Specialist copay.

            Have I become, as a previous commenter noted, “obsessive” about aspergillus (citric acid, HFCS, soy, etc…)? Yes. Dear God yes. But I sincerely believe that the obsessive way with which I investigate this will ultimately allow me to lead a healthy, well-balanced life. And if any info I discover may be of use to someone else, that’s all the better.

          • Thank you for sharing, Jocelyn!

    • gmoprotectionleague on November 10, 2013 at 7:26 am said:

      Danielle everyone has their own opinions however trying to avoid gmo’s is not an obsession though I do understand the spin you have put on it, that for some it seems excessive because it’s a tiny amount. Some of us really strive to keep our bodies 100% free of any/all types of gmos.

      To want to protect our bodies from a corn that is so heavily sprayed with pesticides and chemicals (and to boycott a seed produced by a company with a despicable track record of pollution and cover-ups and government influence) is never an obsession. We are paying the extra money for the organic label and should not have to be doing all of this detective work over this issue anymore, it’s friggen ridiculous. It’s stress and it doesn’t fare well with any of us. We are FED UP and the more we band together and stop supporting companies that add this non-necessary hidden gmo ingredient the sooner a change will come!

      For anyone else who cares and doesn’t feel its an obsession but a healthy concern, I can recommend Bionaturae and Eden foods for canned tomatoes that do not contain this citric acid ingredient. Keep searching for those companies who don’t add it, you can find just about anything without it if you search hard enough :)

      Be well :)

  4. So what about foods that come under the special NON-GMO Project? Are they safe? I have been doing my best to only use those.

  5. Kimberly on September 9, 2013 at 8:46 am said:

    I agree with Danielle on this one. Sorry, but avoiding this ingredient would be almost impossible unless you ate only homemade preserved items and fresh food all the time. I am wonder woman, but I’m not a God. haha I make our own bread, jams, etc. but good lord…this is one of those things that I’ll wait on “voting with my dollars” until some other more gnarly stuff is taken out of our regular food supply. I won’t be avoiding citric acid the same way I avoid hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup. If the volume of it were increased, then it might be another story. Hopefully I won’t be the one eating my words if they discover that this kind of citric acid is the cause of all the cancer we have nowadays! I can only hope.

  6. I’ve noticed it a lot lately in several of the organic foods I purchase. Perfect world, when folks make food they claim to be healthy they would in fact be healthy. But I’ve learned that most anything you purchase out of a store will have something in it you wish wasn’t there. I’ve decided that you gotta live at some point and not worry too much. Worry is almost more dangerous. I try to eat homemade and fresh foods when possible. I try to avoid the citric acid, but if it’s there I’ll deal.

  7. I am highly allergic to citric acid and have been for 30 years – it causes my throat to close. I am also allergic to mold – so that makes sense after reading this article. It is in everything.

  8. Mepster on September 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm said:

    Katie:
    Unfortunately, you don’t have the whole story and to spread information like it is truth is not a good thing. Not all citric acid is derived from GMO products. As a matter of fact, many of the manufacturers overseas, including Citrique Belge that you mention, does not use GMO’s in the manufacturer of Citric acid. They do use A niger and can ferment it with corn, beets, waxy maize, or cane. Not all of these product are GMO. Many of the beets and sugar cane or not GM. Nothing in the production process uses GM material. Hence, the citric acid is GMO free. I know this, because I sell Citric for many different manufacturers worldwide and many have independent agencies certifying their product does not use GM products in the process.
    As for organic. To the best of my knowledge, there are no organically certified mfg’s of Citric Acid. However, do to the organic certification process, and product can be classified as Organic compliant. Due to the process, production, and growing of the crops, the products can be classified as organic compliant. Does that make it as stringent as a true organic certification, no, but there have been reputable organic certifying agencies that have certified citric as organic compliant. If these strict agencies are ok with it and have done their homework, who of us is to say it shouldn’t be used or can go in organic products.
    Just want the full story to be revealed as I have nothing to gain.
    Be well,
    Mepster

    • Hello Mepster,

      I never said that Citrique Belge used GMO products in their production, that was a quoted source explaining the processing of citric acid. I also specified that not all citric acid is GM – however, at least in the states and from what I have found from a majority of sources, is that GM corn and sugar beets are used in the processing of citric acid. Also, the A. Niger bacteria can now also be genetically modified. I also never stated that there was organic citric acid available, only companies that specify that their citric acid is made without GMOs in the process. I believe it is up to the consumer to call the manufacture to find out how the ingredients in their food is prepared.

      I would love to see some sources as to better understand your point-of-view and the manufacturer you work for.

      Here are two more journal articles that talk about the use of citric acid with GM A. Niger and yeast:

      http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/gras_notices/GRN000402.pdf
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23584740

      I never post articles with the intention of claiming it to be 100% my way or no way – I always encourage my readers to dig into and research things on their own. This is the research that I have done. All I am trying to do is find the truth behind what is in the American food supply.

      I appreciate you taking the time to share,
      Katie

      • Mepster on September 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm said:

        Katie:
        You may not have said all in your statements, but you did insinuate that the products are GM. Following is your text:

        “So guess what this means? It is produced with the aid of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The process of making this citric acid utilizes sugar beets and maize, which are usually Genetically Modified. But companies aren’t required to label that, even in USDA Organic Label foods.
        Citric acid is now a food science, no longer coming from the delicious grapefruit, lemon, or lime. Big companies are now using GM-products to get higher yields since extracting from the actual citrus fruit is too expensive. ” Produced with the aid of GMOs, utilizes…which are usually GM, Big companies are now using GM-products to get higher yields–each of these statements make it sound like fact–when in reality it isn’t. Plus your title, “What is Citric Acid.?.. a hidden GMO”– makes it sound like fact.

        As for the A. niger being used, yes, there is some GM A. niger but it is not the commercially used material. The websites quoted were for very specific applications, not your normal usage for most fermentation applications. In most cases, A. niger is grown in large commercial petri dishes and is used widely to make many different products. A very beneficial fungus.

        I don’t believe I said you said Citrique product was GMO. I stated that Citrique along with other overseas mfg’s don’t have a GMO product. You are correct in that many of the domestic mfg’s of citric use GM corn to make their product so they don’t claim GM free. I agree with you in that it is difficult for a consumer to know if they are getting ingredients that are GM. There are many that are GM, but there are many that are not. And the listing on Non GMO project is not accurate. Some of those ingredients can be GM but many are not. It is a matter of having all the facts not just various “soundbites” from the internet.

        I didn’t say you said there was organic product available. I was just making you aware what is available and how manufacturers of organic food items can use citric acid in their organic products. Also, as an aside to your readers, citric hasn’t been made commercially using citrus fruit for well over 75 years.

        My knowledge comes from selling Citric Acid for 28 years from sources all over the world–from the USA, Belgium, China, Brazil, Indonesia, and Thailand, to name just a few countries. I have visited a number of Citric plants and we keep thorough documentation on all the products we sell and most plants utilize 3rd party audits for process certification as well as their own internal audits. I am sorry to say, but I can not list those companies or their documents. But rest assured, the facts are accurate and spoken with much knowledge.
        Best,
        Mepster

        • Hello again Mepster,

          Thank you for taking the time to lend your thoughts to this discussion. The fact that even some of the companies that manufacture citric acid use GMOs in any form leads me to believe that some of the citric acid in our food supply is genetically modified. We have agreed that there are ways to source citric acid from manufacturers that ensure it is not GM (as I mentioned in my post). However what give me pause is the fact that the companies that are not GMO-free are not required to label it as such. I feel confident that my readers will make a decision that is right for them and their families on this subject.

          One of the points of this post, that I feel very strongly about, is the fact that the foods (at least here in America) are not labeled honestly. And I hope and pray people will stand up and take responsibility to know what they are putting into their bodies.

          I do appreciate you taking the time to add to this discussion and I wish you the best in all your future ventures,
          Katie

  9. I just wanted to thank you for all the research that you do and sharing that info with us. I know you spend a lot of time and love sharing you findings. I love reading your findings and enriching my understanding. Thanks again :)

  10. Hello,
    I would like to know your opinion on carrageenan. I try to make my own almond or rice milk, but sometimes I need to purchase it when we are traveling. From what I read, carrageenan is not healthy. Do you know of any dairy free, organic, non GMO products that do not contain carrageenan? I appreciate your hard work and dedication to bringing us this information.
    By the way, I know you did not type out the words “WTF” and I am sure you were trying to make a point, but I did take offense to it, especially since I encourage my teenage daughter to read your articles. I think you could have left that out and still got your point across. Thanks again.

    • Hello Lisa,

      I will definitely consider writing a post on carrageenan, I’ve heard some not so pleasant things about it as well and I would love to delve into it more. This page is a great resource for looking for brands without carrageenan: http://www.cornucopia.org/shopping-guide-to-avoiding-organic-foods-with-carrageenan/ I have heard the organic 365 Whole Foods brand has no carrageenan in it.

      I am sorry about the “WTF” since in my house it means “What the Frick” – but I completely understand. I went ahead and changed it out with something more PG, and will keep that in mind for future posts.

      Thank you for stopping by and for the support,
      Katie

  11. THANKS for the article. my son has a corn allergy and we avoid citric acid anyways. I didnt even think about the gmo aspect even if we were not avoiding because of an allergy I would have started to reffuse purchasing thses items. as consumers the choices we make can impact the food industry. we need to get back to the basics on a larger scale if not for our health then for the generations that follow. I look forward to more info and can’t wait to findnout more about carregeenan as well.

  12. Thanks for shedding the light on the use of GMOs in citric acid. I’ve been trying to find a source for high quality citric acid that is made from citrus, or from non-GMO sugar. I know those will be much more expensive but for occasional use in cooking it should be ok. If you happen to know of such sources I’d appreciate sharing. Thanks, ed

    • AnnaOna on November 12, 2013 at 1:11 am said:

      I like the article. I really want to do my home made organic mozzarella cheese and one of the main ingredient is citric acid. I did a research and couldnt find organic citric acid. Probably it does not exist. I’d like to find a high quality citric acid that is made from citrus? Can anybody suggest one?
      thank you

  13. Thank you so much for all the information you share! It’s been a long process educating my husband on real food and the dangers associated with GMOs…he’s finally starting to “get it” and not want those products in the house…and every day I’m learning more about how many products contain GMOs or awful additives. Can’t wait to be growing my own and having my own animals!!!!

  14. I buy organic roasted tomatoes, it says naturally derived citric acid. So I assumed it was non gmo.
    Now I wonder is it?

  15. Susan Asselin on September 11, 2013 at 9:11 am said:

    Hi Katie, thanks for the info on citric acid. I don’t have any doubt that most of the citric acid in foods today is GM modified, as is nearly everything and I would put money on it that 99% of it is derived from Monsanto’s GM corn! I already read years ago, when trying to find organic infant formula without citric acid, that it rapidly destroys the enamel on your teeth. We too in Australia are lied to about the ingredients in our foods, probably just the same as in the USA. Thanks for your time and effort in researching this important information to educate others. Knowledge is power xo

  16. When any fungus metabolizes glucose regardless of its source it is completely Brocken down and is no longer recognizable as the original product.
    Yes I’m well aware of GMO’. s I’ve written a few papers on them. No I’m not a fan at all, they hold to many health risks. But we are talking about a basic organism that can completely convert the glucose..
    Are you saying there is some genetic carry over from the original food source to our plates by way of the citric acid?
    And the gm A.niger is it modified through years of manipulation or by viral gene insertion.?

    No vegetable or fruit you eat is in its original form. Throughout time people have selected the best of the best and breed them to produce the desired results. They are all genetically modified.
    Which is fine..

    Now if you’re talking about gene insertion through a viral carrier that delivers animal and insect genes into our food to change its fundamental gene sequence. This is not ok at all..

    The year following the introduction of viral produced GMO’s. the food allergy rate increased by 256% that alone is evidence of how wrong they are for our body.
    Thanks for your time…

  17. What an interesting article! I’d love it if you would share at our Healing With Foods blog hop! Hope to see you there! http://peelingbacktheonionlayers.com/healing-with-food-friday/

  18. Mepster sounds like he works for the government…..”trust me” he says……yeah…not happening. Like you said Katie the only way to be sure is to make it yourself, grow it yourself and raise it yourself. Well said!!!

  19. Drat. I just bought citric acid to use in my canning recipes. It is from Frontier Herbs, so it might be a non-GMO product. I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for the info!

    I’d love to have you share your talent on The HomeAcre Hop on Thursdays! Stop by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre to join the fun…and our giveaway!

  20. Here is information from research I’ve done that bolsters your research…

    If people think trace amounts of GMOs do not affect them, they are dead wrong. The threat GMOs pose are invisible to a large portion of the human population due to how GMOs interact with their bodily functions and because the most devastating GMOs are microscopic bacteria. Everyone is affected differently because everyone is genetically different.

    Fortunately for me, I’ve discovered that GMOs are responsible for causing my chronic illness. Within one hour of consuming a food product with GMO contaminants, my chronic illness manifests. Laboratory testing for GMOs isn’t a silver bullet because if only minor tweaking of the bacteria on the genetic level was performed, it may not register as GMO and pass under the radar for labeling. For someone like me, I don’t need to run a highly expensive laboratory test to identify whether or not a food item is contaminated. My body tells me via blatant symptoms manifesting like a fire alarm going off. It is unfortunate for others, but their body is probably producing cancer etc. as a response, which is a silent alarm.

    Now why do GMO bacteria pose such a huge threat? Well, despite popular belief, diet isn’t as important as people think. For example, an apple contains essential vitamins and nutrients for your body. But ask yourself, how does the body absorb and utilize the vitamins and nutrients to begin with? It does so through the naturally occurring micro-flora in your digestive tract, the bacteria. If there is an imbalance in the micro-flora of your body, then your body will not effectively uptake the vitamins and nutrients. The primary focus should be on normalizing the micro-flora in your body, and then on the vitamins and nutrients you intake. A surplus of unnatural enzymes and unnatural bacteria will cause an imbalance, causing the specific foods eaten for dietary purposes completely irrelevant if the correction has not been made. The bacteria in our bodies are critical and responsible for making sure that the cells in our body receive adequate nourishment. The enzymes produced by bacteria play a key role in brain chemicals, which affects how we think etc.. This is how pharmaceutical medications function. So yes, food is medicine.

    I’m not obsessed about not eating GMOs… it is a matter of life and death for me. Also, do not worry about GMO labeling because that only provides a false sense of security. Even though I have first-hand experience in the real threats GMOs pose, I personally don’t care about GMO labeling. Growing your own food really is the only option you have. If anything, the research Katie has done shows this due to the surprise about modern day Citric Acid’s origin. In addition to not consuming Citric Acid, a recommendation is to not eat any dairy products. They possess the highest concentrations of GMO bacterias and enzyme by-products from GMO bacteria. I’m a cheese lover, but will not and cannot eat the poison.

    Relevant facts you may not know:

    Some of the bacteria in our mouths create an acid that dissolves the enamel on our teeth. Fluoride makes our teeth white by killing these bacteria, thus preventing the acid by-product. You can put two and two together to figure out what Fluoride does to the naturally occurring micro-flora in our digestive tract if we consume Fluoride laced water.

    Lactobacillus is a highly beneficially bacteria. Pasteurized milk is milk that has been super heated to destroy all bacteria. There is no point in consuming something if its beneficial properties have been erased. If anything, it may be harmful to consume a food items devoid of bacteria.

    Plants will uptake antibiotics if it is present in the soil. Simply eating a food deemed organic may not be adequate if the soil has been contaminated. It would take some time for contaminants to work their way out of the ecosystem.

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  24. Great post Katie, this is something I have been wondering about and never got around to looking up myself. As a chemical engineer I know that no chemical can be 100% purified, so there will be traces of other chemicals apart from ctric acid, no matter how it is produced, so it does really matter where it comes from, and apart from that I don’t want to support the GMO industry at all. I use lemon juice or vinegar to create acidity in anything that I preserve.

  25. Oh no! Not another ingredient. LOL. I just got done researching Carrageenan and Gellan Gum and am avoiding it. I really thought citric acid was “natural”. DOH!

  26. Debbie Alexander on September 20, 2013 at 10:11 am said:

    Great post! I do not think it’s an obsession to try to elimnate products with citric acid from one’s diet given the GMO issue.

  27. Debbie McKay on September 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm said:

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks so much for all the research you do on the behalf of your fellow humans. It is much appreciated. I have had trouble with citric acid and avoid it at all costs. When I use liquid soap with citric acid (and it’s impossible to find it without it), I break out in a rash. I avoid all processed foods and eat only whole foods. The containers alone are enough to make me run the other way. Plastic that is leaching BPA and phthalates, can liners that do the same, I refuse to buy into the trend of ingesting poisonous products. I have known that citric acid was dangerous, but never took the time to research very thoroughly. Thanks for the news.
    Debbie

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  31. Your worries are for naught. Citric Acid is one of the safest things you can consume. Not so good for the teeth, but a NATURAL PRODUCT. I have worked for 2 different citric manufacturers. I am an EXPERT in Citric Acid technology. I can guarantee you that citric in the USA is made from NON GMO organisms. There could be GMO corn that made the citric acid, but the manufacturing and isolation process results in a VERY PURE citric acid. No GMO worries with Citric.

  32. People with severe corn allergies are living proof that citric acid produced by fermentation is not completely isolated from the growth medium. I have a throat closing, epi pen worthy reaction to citric acid from corn sugar but can tolerate citric acid from tapioca sugar. There are many many others who react to one and not the other.

  33. SOme of the comments seem to reflect a confusion about citric acid and lemon juice, saying they want to avoid the former, so they use the latter. But lemons can be as much as 8% by weight citric acid, so that is not a way to avoid it.

    Also, the writer is not saying that citric acid is a GM product, but rather that it theoretically could be. That should not raise the same level of concern as knowing it was prepared by a GMO (genetically modified organism).

    Finally, one should think more carefully about what risk GMOs bring. The organisms we interact with every day are all GMO, that is, they have had genetic modifications over time, and continue to have them. Even we humans have changes occurring in the genes of many of our cells every day, so we could be considered “GMOs”. The concern about GMOs, while there are cases where this might be rational, is really out of proportion to the risk. It is like someone who has heard that an infection with the HIV virus can cause (after a long time) acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and thus becomes phobic about all viruses.

    • Gameover Canary on December 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm said:

      Actually, the operative word in “Genetically Modified Organism” is modified. Nothing is naturally modified because it is impossible for oranges to cross-breed with fish etc.. You are getting selective breeding and/or natural selection mixed up with genetic modification.

      Most of the current genetic modification is in splicing the DNA of bacteria into plants. A little research about how vital a balanced microflora is for the human body is very telling as to how extremely hazardous GMOs are to our health. Would you be okay with Zoloft or Adderall being mixed in with your food or water? No you wouldn’t be.

      Don’t think GMOs affect you like medications do? Think again. Common sense and research dictate otherwise.

  34. Katherin on December 31, 2013 at 12:04 am said:

    Wow thank you for sharing!!!
    I know a lady who went citric acid free and gluten free and now she doesn’t have Migraines anymore!!! :)

  35. kingdmrle on January 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm said:

    Please watch:
    “forks over knifes”, “Genetic Roulette”, “king Corn”, “Frankensteer”, “Food Inc”
    You will learn all about our food supply. Dont trust what the FDA says they are liers. Do not trust any food other than a plant based diet of organic. If you do eat meat…make sure its grass fed only! Always read the labels but the best thing to do is make your own food!

    Thanks for this post about Citric acid!

  36. From God’s lips to Katie’s ears? How does she know that things are just like it was at creation?

  37. I’m allergic to asperilligus niger, the mold used to make citric acid. I have no problem finding food in grocery stores I can eat. The only thing that’s changed, is that I go to more grocery stores now. Another thing to consider is hidden citric acid. A lot of pre-packaged vegetables are washed in citric acid and it doesn’t have to be on the label.

    • Jocelyn on February 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm said:

      I just found out I’m allergic to it too! All strains of aspergillus actually. Kendra & Katie – have you been able to narrow down specific cheeses that aren’t made with citric acid? I’ve been trying to figure it out, but since FDA doesn’t require it on the label, it makes it pretty difficult.

      • I haven’t yet, it is so tricky! If there is a cheese you love, try calling the manufacturers number on the packaging to ask if they process there cheese with Citric Acid. I am sorry it’s such a pain and I am not of more help!

  38. Megan Howard on January 29, 2014 at 10:40 am said:

    I have another reason not to consume products containing citric acid. It contains free glutamates, otherwise known as excitotoxins. Most people know this as MSG, and would avoid it, if it were not disguised by so many different names. It is a huge industry, and our foods are full of it. Read the book by the neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, “Excitotoxins the Taste That Kills”, for more information. People are finding links to autism and auto-immune diseases from its consumption. I had a number of foods that either gave me arthritis or stomach issues, and couldn’t find a common link until I found out about free glutamates. Now that I know to avoid them, it is absolutely shocking how many things they are in.

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  40. Katie on March 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm said:

    I appreciate your article. I was just recently diagnosed with citric acid intolerance but suspect that I have had it for many years. My GI and Allergist don’t have a lot of information because at this point there is not a lot of research. I have extreme bloating and abdominal pain when I have ingested CA. Being able to find information such as this and where people share their symptoms, avoidances, etc really helps. Thanks a lot.

  41. Karen on March 20, 2014 at 9:34 am said:

    I have a mold allergy and after years of suffering finally figured out it was the citric acid in processed food.

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  43. Reality on March 31, 2014 at 2:13 am said:

    Clearly science has no friends here. Citric acid caused your mold allergy? Sigh.

    Please educate yourselves with actual science and not junk science you read from someone’s blog.

  44. Paivi on April 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:

    I read a Swedish article about this and they said a. Niger and bensen is used to produce citric acid. The corn or maize is fermented with this. Bensen is highly cancerous. Is A.Niger same as black mold?

  45. Walter C. on April 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm said:

    Let me begin by saying that I am very concerned about the prevalence of GM ingredients in so much of our food. Research about the subject is, in fact, what led me to this page. I think it raises important questions that we should all be asking about the food/ products that we put into/ onto our bodies. So I most definitely am in support of the same cause- avoiding products containing GM ingredients or produced using GMOs whenever we possibly can.
    I am, however, a little confused regarding mold allergies being triggered by consumption of citric acid, and I don’t think anyone who has posted here yet has actually “explained the science” behind any of it. Before I continue, I assure you that I’m not trying to argue specifically for or against citric acid, or with anyone about their allergies and the suffering they undoubtedly cause. I truly feel for everyone who is being poisoned by something that is packaged and sold as edible. Additionally, I personally avoid products with citric acid because I do not agree with the GM ingredients that are, in most cases I’m sure, used to produce it.
    It is my understanding that regardless of the production method citric acid itself is a weak organic acid with the chemical formula C6H8O7. So even if it’s produced using A. niger (GM or not), that’s fed a form of sugar that is derived from a GM source, the mold is then removed from the equation altogether and citric acid is isolated. From Wikipedia: “After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid.”
    That, to me, would suggest that there is no longer A. niger present and what you’ve got is pure citric acid which should in theory have the same chemical formula as citric acid derived from citrus fruit. Perhaps you end up with some residual amounts of other chemicals used in the process. Now of course, I am not a scientist, and I could be WAY off the mark here but it doesn’t seem like there’s mold present in citric acid. Perhaps it’s in another ingredient? Or the citric acid causes an allergic reaction similar to one triggered by A. niger? Or maybe the mold isn’t actually completely separated in the production process after all? I don’t have the answers, perhaps someone does…
    I guess the bottom line is if something makes you sick, regardless of the science behind it, you should probably avoid it. And even though I personally experience no allergic reaction to citric acid, I’ll be avoiding it on principle, before I do!

  46. Josie on April 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm said:

    Well that is discouraging! (but such good information) We have always specifically looked for citric acid made from beets due to my son’s orange allergy. Is there a process that you know of to make citric acid at home? I’ve looked around since reading this, but can’t seem to find anything. :)

    • I am not sure how to make citric acid at home, but I am big fan of just using a squeeze of lemon or lime in place of it. :) Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  47. Evgenia on April 7, 2014 at 6:38 am said:

    Hi Katie,
    Thank you for the post!
    I generally avoid any packaged foods that contain anything that sounds like a chemical e.g. citric acid, sodium benzoat, sodium nitrate etc. I did not realize that cheese is made with citric acid though.
    Do you think most of imported cheeses are made with citric acid that is not GMO?
    If I buy local cheese I usually do it at Farmers Markets (I live in NYC). But I don’t know if farmers are aware of where their citric acid is coming from. What are your thoughts?
    Thank you!

    • It’s tough to tell sometimes as to what products contain what kind of citric acid, I have found the only way to truly know is by calling the company and asking them specifically about what kind of citric acid they use, if they use it at all in their products. I would ask the farmers at your market, there should be a few educated farmers there who really care about the ingredients they put into their cheese. It might take some time to find a good source, but once you do you’ll be happy you did! Hope this helps and good luck!

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