Inflammation, mutant black mold, and a very common ingredient

Inflammation, mutant black mold, and a very common ingredient

Check a few food labels in your pantry and chances are you have several products containing citric acid. It’s common in food, beverages, supplements and even medications. I had always assumed it came from lemons or limes, and thought little of it….until I came across this article in the journal Toxicology Reports:

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

Normally a series of only 4 case reports wouldn’t change my life, but this one did, and here’s why: They reported that…

Most people assume that citric acid is sourced naturally from lemons and limes, and although it can be…

The more commonly used ingredient is technically “manufactured citric acid” (MCA) made from a mutant strain of black mold known to be toxic

Ingredient labels will generally not tell you which type of citric acid is used

The vast majority of MCA production is in countries with poor track records for food safety

Fragments of the toxic black mold can get into the citric acid

If we ingest fragments of this black mold, we’d expect some people to have significant immune (i.e., inflammatory) reactions

There was no safety testing of this ingredient by the FDA or anyone else, because the manufactured citric acid was assumed to be identical to natural citric acid—nobody considered testing for the toxic mold contamination

The authors report that when some of their patients removed all products containing citric acid from their diets, some chronic significant inflammatory reactions improved. When they added it back, their symptoms returned.

The authors conclude that:

“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.”

The good news is that we don’t need to wait for safety trials to do our own personal experiments. If you try giving up MCA and feel much better, maybe that’s all the “safety testing” you need.

Answered by Jill Brook, MA