Allergy Mate

Citric acid intolerance

citric
May 13, 2013 Allergy Mate Curator

An inability to metabolize citric acid (E330).

Citric acid is an organic acid found in fruit, vegetables and household products. It is used commercially as a preservative, and to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks, beer, and seltzer. It is found naturally in many fruit juices and in a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits. It is also used in a variety of household and commercial products including detergents and soaps. Citric acid should not be confused with Vitamin C. Sodium salts of citric acid (E331; Monosodium citrate, Disodium citrate; Trisodium citrate) are found in citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries and many other fruits.

Citric acid does not cause allergic reactions in people who have a citrus allergy. This is because it is commercially produced from sugar, not fruit. Information in the 1970s indicated that citric acid is carcinogenic. This has since been disproven in a large number of studies and scientific analysis.

Citric acid intolerance is an uncommon condition. This is unrelated to a sensitivity to Aspergillus niger (A. niger), a type of fungus that is used in the commercial production of citric acid. Note: it is possible that A. Niger and sulfites are not completely filtered out during the citric acid production process, which may affect some people

When a sufferer ingests or comes into contact with citric acid, symptoms similar to a food allergy can occur. Citric acid intolerance is triggered by ingesting or coming into contact with products that contain citric acid (E330) either naturally or introduced.

Management of citric acid intolerance is based on avoidance of food and products that contain citric acid, or that may have been cross-contanimated within a product (e.g. in fruit cocktails, fruit flavourings) or in the production process.

Potential symptoms

Abdominal pain (stomach cramps)
Anaphylaxis – Rarer
Aphthous (oral) ulcer
Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Bloating
Diarrhoea / diarrhea
Nausea
Pruritus (itch)
Skin crusting
Skin dryness
Skin rash – Red
Sore throat / mouth
Urticaria (hives) – Rarer
Vomiting

Potential high risk

Apricot (dried)
Effervescent bath salts / bombs – Citric acid is combined with sodium bicarbonate to create the effervescent effect
Effervescent tablets / powder – Citric acid is combined with sodium bicarbonate to create the effervescent effect
Lima beans
Mandarin
Mandarin (canned)
Mango
Orange
Passionfruit
Raspberry
Sundried tomato (canned)
Tangelo

Potential low risk

Apple (dried)
Apricot (canned)
Artichoke
Artichoke (canned)
Asparagus
Avocado
Babaco (uncooked)
Baked beans (canned) – Higher risk if canned in tomato sauce
Banana
Beetroot
Beetroot (canned)
Blackberry
Blueberry
Blueberry (canned)
Broad bean
Broccoli
Brussels sprout
Cabbage
Cabbage (canned)
Cannellini bean (canned)
Capsicum / pepper (uncooked)
Cassava (uncooked)
Cauliflower
Cheddar cheese
Chickpeas (canned)
Chillies / Chilies
Chinese cabbage
Chives
Cokeâ„¢ Zero – Contains E331 (sodium salt of citrid acid)
Cucumber (uncooked) – Apple crystal
Custard apple
Endive
Fennel
Feta cheese
Figs
Gelato – Commercially produced
Ginger
Grapes (green / seedless)
Green Peas
Haricot beans (dried)
Honeydew Melon
Jackfruit
Kohlrabi
Lentils (dried)
Lima beans (cooked)
Mixed beans (canned)
Mixed fruit (dried)
Nectarine
Olive (canned)
Onion
Parsley
Parsnip
Pawpaw / Papaya
Peach
Peach (canned)
Peanut Butter
Peanuts
Pear
Pear (canned)
Potato
Prickly Pear
Pumpkin
Rambutan
Red kidney beans (canned)
Red kidney beans (cooked)
Rhubarb
Rockmelon / Canteloupe
Shallot / spring onion (cooked)
Silverbeet
Snowpea
Soft drink / Soda (citrus flavor)
Soft drink / Soda (lemonade)
Soup (canned) – Check label
Soya / soy beans (canned)
Soya / soy beans (cooked)
Spinach
Split peas (cooked)
Sweet corn
Sweet Potato
Taro
Turnip
Watercress
Watermelon
Wine (white; sweet)

Potential moderate risk

Apricot
Asparagus (canned)
Beer (home brewed) – Citric acid is often used in home brew formulae
Cassava (cooked)
Chutney (fruit based)
Cordial
Dates
Disodium citrate – Sodium salt of citric acid used as a food additive
E331: Sodium Dihydrogen Citrate – Sodium salt of citric acid used as a food additive
Fromage frais / fromage blanc (fruit flavored)
Fruit salad (canned)
Garlic
Grapefruit
Guava
Indian curry paste / curry sauces – Commercially produced
Instant mashed potato (powder)
Jam / Jelly
Jello / Jelly crystals
Kiwifruit
Mexican seasoning – Commercially produced
Mineral water (citrus flavored)
Monosodium citrate – Sodium salt of citric acid used as a food additive
Mozzarella cheese – Citric acid is used as a ripening agent
Mulberry
Orange marmalade
Passionfruit (canned)
Pineapple
Pineapple (canned)
Pomegranate
Potato (cooked)
Potato Chips (canned)
Raspberry (canned)
Red beans
Red kidney beans
Salad dressing – Commercially produced
Salsa
Soft drinks
Sour cream
Sourdough bread – Occurs as a result of fermentation
Soy lecithin (E322)
Soya / soy beans
Split peas
Strawberry
Strawberry (canned)
Sweet corn (cooked)
Tamarillo
Tomato
Tomato (canned)
Tomato Paste (canned)
Tomato sauce / catsup / ketchup – Commercially produced
Trisodium citrate – Sodium salt of citric acid used as a food additive
Wine (mixed with fruit juice blend)

Potential negligable risk

Chocolate – Check label for additives

Potential very high risk

Anti viral tissues
Citric acid
E330
Hair lightening / bleaching products
Lemon
Lemon juice – Citric acid constitutes up to about 47 g/L of the juice
Lime
Lime juice – Citric acid constitutes up to about 47 g/L of the juice
Sherbet

Unknown / suspected risk

Baked goods – Commercially prepared
Biscuits / cookies – Commercially prepared
Cake – Commercially prepared
Confectionary – Commercially prepared
Food coloring / colouring – Citric acid can be used balance the acidity of a basic dye
Ice cream – Commercially produced; can be added to keep fat globules separated
Industrial cleaning products – Citric acid is the active ingredient in some industrial cleaning products; useful for dissolving rust from steel
Kitchen / bathroom cleaning detergent – Citric acid is the active ingredient in some bathroom and kitchen cleaning solutions; useful for removing hard water stains from glass
Laundry detergent – May be used to help the product produce foam and work better without need for water softening
Shampoo – In products that wash out hair wax and coloring
Soap – May be used to help the product produce foam and work better without need for water softening
Soups – Commercially produced
Stock / broth / bouillon (cubes liquid powder) – Commercially produced
Wine – Citric acid is sometimes used as a substitute or improver where fruits containing little or no natural acidity are used

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