Citric Acid
(in 60,526 products)

Potential Risk Index®:

ISCE InhaleISCE SwallowISCE ContactISCE Environment
PRI Legend


1. Acidity Regulator / Buffering Agent - Changes or maintains the acidity or basicity of food/cosmetics.
2. Antioxidant - Reduces oxidation to prevent the formation of free radicals which may be harmful to health.
3. Antiseptic / Disinfectant - Prevents growth of unwanted microorganisms.
4. Chelating Agent (Chelants) - Binds to and removes potentially toxic or unwanted metals
5. Emulsifier - Allows water and oils to remain mixed together to form an emulsion.
6. Exfoliant - Removes dead cells at the surface of the skin
7. Flavor / Flavoring / Flavor Enhancer - Provides or enhances a particular taste or smell.
8. Skin Whitening Agent - Reduces the melanin content of the skin
Because it is one of the stronger edible acids, the dominant use of citric acid is as a flavoring and preservative (E330) in food and beverages, especially soft drinks and candies. Citric acid can be added to ice cream as an emulsifying agent to keep fats from separating, to caramel to prevent sucrose crystallization, or in recipes in place of fresh lemon juice. Citric acid can be used in food coloring to balance the pH level of a normally basic dye. [1]
Citric acid is the active ingredient in some bathroom and kitchen cleaning solutions. It can be used in shampoo to wash out wax and coloring from the hair.
Anhydrous Citric Acid is a tricarboxylic acid found in citrus fruits. Citric acid is used as an excipient in pharmaceutical preparations due to its antioxidant properties. It maintains the stability of active ingredients and is used as a preservative. It is also used as an acidulant to control pH and acts as an anticoagulant by chelating calcium in blood. [1]
Recent Findings:
Citric acid is an excellent chelator of metals and may be used to extract zinc and lead from the soil. [2] It is also used to extract lead from contaminated soils. [3] As such, citric acid also increases the absorption of aluminium from antacids by chelating with it. [4] The chelating activity of citric acid also increases at higher pH compared to lower pH. [5]
Citric acid has also been shown to inhibit the growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Zygosaccharomyces bailii bacteria. [5] It is also effective at inhibiting Listeria monocytogenes which may be present in refrigerated poultry. [6] Citric acid has shown no mutagenic effects in vitro or in vivo when used as a preservative. [7]
Citric acid may also be added to animal feed for Beluga whales to improve growth and phosphorus digestibility. [8] It is also used to improve phosphorus utilization in corn-soybean meal diets for chicks. [9]
A topical lotion of 20% citric acid has also shown to treat sunburns more effectively compared to the control by increasing the epidermal thickness and dermal glycosaminoglycans at the treated area. [10]
Overall, citric acid is commonly used as a preservative or as a chelator. It is particularly efficient at chelating with phosphorus, where it is added to animal feed to boost their absorption of phosphorus supplements. It can also be used to treat sunburns.
Scientific References:
2. Extraction of metals from a contaminated sandy soil using citric acid. (Environ. Prog., 19(4), 275–282. doi:10.1002/ep.670190415)
3. Citric acid-assisted phytoextraction of lead: A field experiment. (Chemosphere, 92(2), 213–217. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.01.103)
4. Dietary citric acid enhances absorption of aluminum in antacids (Clin. Chem. Mar 1986, 32 (3) 539-541)
5. The effect of citric acid and pH on growth and metabolism of anaerobic Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Zygosaccharomyces bailii cultures. (Food Microbiol., 24(1), 101–105. doi:10.1016/
6. Efficacy of citric acid against Listeria monocytogenes attached to poultry skin during refrigerated storage. (Int. J. Food Sci. Technol., 44(2), 262–268. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2007.01673.x)
7. Genotoxicity of five food preservatives tested on root tips of Allium cepa L. (Mutat. Res. Genet. Toxicol. Environ. Mutagen., 626(1-2), 4–14. doi:10.1016/j.mrgentox.2006.07.006)
8. Citric acid improves growth performance and phosphorus digestibility in Beluga (Huso huso) fed diets where soybean meal partly replaced fish meal. (Anim. Feed Sci. Technol., 171(1), 68–73. doi:10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2011.10.001)
9. The Effect of Citric Acid on the Calcium and Phosphorus Requirements of Chicks Fed Corn-Soybean Meal Diets. (Poult. Sci., 80(6), 783–788. doi:10.1093/ps/80.6.783)
10. Citric Acid Increases Viable Epidermal Thickness and Glycosaminoglycan Content of Sundamaged Skin. (Dermatol. Surg., 23(8), 689–694. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.1997.tb00391.x)
Regulatory References:
1. EPA Pesticide Registration List N: Disinfectants for Use Against Coronaviruses ( - Citric acid
2. US EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant approved for COVID-19
- Citric acid
3. CANADA INGREDIENT HOTLIST, List of Ingredients that are Restricted for Use in Cosmetic Products [2019]
- Alpha-hydroxy acids
4. US FDA Food Additives Status List [2018]
- Citric acid
5. EU Approved Food Additive [2018]
- E330
6. Japan’s List of Designated Food Additives under Article 10 of the Food Sanitation Act
- Citric Acid
7. Canada List of Permitted Food Additives
- List 8 - Citric Acid
8. US FDA Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Food Substances (21 CFR 184) [2017]
- § 184.1033 - Citric acid

Safety and Hazards (UN GHS):

1. Harmful if swallowed (H302)
2. Causes skin irritation (H315)
3. May cause an allergic skin reaction (H317)
4. Causes serious eye damage (H318)
5. Causes serious eye irritation (H319)
6. May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled (H334)
7. May cause respiratory irritation (H335)
8. May cause genetic defects (H340)
9. Suspected of causing genetic defects (H341)
10. May cause cancer (H350)
11. Suspected of causing cancer (H351)
12. May damage fertility or the unborn child (H360)
13. Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure (H372)
14. Very toxic to aquatic life (H400)
15. Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects (H410)

Potential Health Concerns For:

1. Arthritis, Experimental (PubMed ID:24709313)
2. Chromosome Breakage (PubMed ID:30019796)
3. Cough (PubMed ID:19363516)
4. Kidney Calculi (PubMed ID:24360074)
5. Myocardial Ischemia (PubMed ID:3812268)
6. Ureteral Calculi (PubMed ID:24360074)
7. Urinary Bladder, Overactive (PubMed ID:19539322)
8. Vascular Diseases (PubMed ID:6463964)

Potential Health Benefits For:

1. Cattle Diseases (PubMed ID:1108409)
2. Endometritis (PubMed ID:1108409)
3. Puerperal Infection (PubMed ID:1108409)

User Comments:

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