EDTA in Food


EDTA or ethylene diaminetetra acetic acid is a chelating amino acid that removes various heavy metals from the body. It does this by binding up the ions of the metals by connecting to the ions with six bonds. The process of chelation renders the metals useless and they are dissolved and flushed out of the body in the urine. EDTA comes in different grades that are used for various reasons, including a food grade compound that is added to foods as they are processed.

Soft Fatty Food Products

Salad dressings, mayonnaise, sauces and soft spreadable margarine have EDTA added for a number of reasons. EDTA has the ability to keep the product from going bad or losing its taste and flavour, thereby keeping the product on the shelf for a longer period of time. Copper and iron are ionic metals that are found in dressings and sauces like mayonnaise, margarine and salad dressing and have the potential to create problems because they will degrade the fats and oils over time, which then alters the flavour of the product and makes it unpalatable and unusable. The addition of EDTA to the product allows the copper and iron to be trapped and made inert, preventing any reactions that would cause issues.


Because beans are commercially packaged in metal tins, EDTA is added during the processing phase to make sure there is no metallic taste. EDTA bonds to the metals, separating them from the rest of the product, and renders them inactive. By doing this, any metallic odour or taste is prevented and the bean product is made palatable. EDTA is not usually listed as an ingredient on canned goods, but black-eyed peas, white beans and kidney beans contain food grade EDTA when commercially processed and canned.


In cooked canned shrimp and crabmeat, EDTA retards struvite formation while also promoting colour retention.  It also promotes colour retention in cooked conned clams and inhibits discolouration in the packaging and gefilte fish balls and patties.


Milk products, beer and soft drinks are made with EDTA additives. The purpose of adding EDTA to soft drinks is to keep the carbonation active so the drink will not go flat and the flavour won’t be lost prior to the opening of the can or bottle.  It is also added to soft drinks containing ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate, to lessen the formation of benzene, which is carcinogenic. EDTA is added to regular milk to preserve the flavour. In condensed milk in cans, it is used to prevent the milk from getting too thick. The reason for adding EDTA to beer during brewing is to prevent the beer from gushing. Gushing is a term used when beer ends up bubbly or effervescent, which ruins the batch.


In pickled cabbage and cucumbers, edta promotes colour, flavour and texture retention.  It also promotes colour and flavour retention of spice extracts in soluble carriers.  For Potato salad and hard boiled whole eggs, it acts as a preservative.  In pecan pie filling, canned strawberry pie filling and ready to eat cereal products containing dried bannanas, it promotes colour retention, and in non nutritive sweeteners it acts as a sequestrant.


Created by Mistral Pure Chemicals. View website


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