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Toxicol Rep. 2018 Aug 9;5:808-812. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2018.08.002. eCollection 2018.

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.

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1
Department of Surgery, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.

Abstract

Citric acid naturally exists in fruits and vegetables. However, it is not the naturally occurring citric acid, but the manufactured citric acid (MCA) that is used extensively as a food and beverage additive. Approximately 99% of the world's production of MCA is carried out using the fungus Aspergillus niger since 1919. Aspergilus niger is a known allergen. The FDA placed MCA under the category of GRAS without any research to substantiate this claim. In 2016, 2.3 million tons of MCA were produced, predominantly in China, and approximately 70% is used as a food or beverage additive. There have been no scientific studies performed to evaluate the safety of MCA when ingested in substantial amounts and with chronic exposure. We present four case reports of patients with a history of significant and repetitive inflammatory reactions including respiratory symptoms, joint pain, irritable bowel symptoms, muscular pain and enervation following ingestion of foods, beverages or vitamins containing MCA. We believe that ingestion of the MCA may lead to a harmful inflammatory cascade which manifests differently in different individuals based on their genetic predisposition and susceptibility, and that the use of MCA as an additive in consumable products warrants further studies to document its safety.

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