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What Is Calcium Acetate?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Calcium acetate, or the calcium salt of acetic acid, is a compound made up of calcium, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. In appearance, calcium acetate is a white granular powder that does not have any smell. Calcium acetate is used in both the food and pharmaceutical industries in medication and as a food additive that acts as a stabilizer. The compound is not considered dangerous but may cause irritation in some people.

Calcium acetate is created by making a calcium salt from acetic acid. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this substance is considered to be generally safe on several levels. As a substance by itself, it is considered safe. Most FDA regulations regard calcium acetate’s use in food. As a food coating, ingredient and direct food substance, it is considered to be safe.

The most prolific use of this compound in the food industry is as a stabilizer. Stabilizers perform several functions in manufactured foods, mostly in powdered foods but also in liquid and solid foods. They are able to organize flavoring compounds and give the product a uniform texture. With foods that use an emulsifier to bind ingredients, calcium acetate further binds the ingredients to ensure nothing separates.

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Many dairy products, such as drinks, condensed milk, milk powder and cream, use calcium acetate. Cereals and batters, along with edible casings for sausages and many types of pasta need this substance for proper production and storage. It also extends the shelf life for all food in which it is used.

As a medicine, this substance is used to ensure phosphate levels in the blood do not become dangerously high for dialysis patients with kidney disease. This medication is often used daily and taken orally via a pill or tablet. The most common side effect is an upset stomach, while serious side effects include stomach pain, loss of appetite or nausea and vomiting. The chances of side effects, especially the serious ones, increase if patients take more calcium acetate than directed by a health professional.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) shows this substance is generally safe. It does not cause any serious health hazards if it is inhaled, eaten, or comes in contact with eyes or skin, nor does it have any expected effects from chronic exposure. Its MSDS storage color is green, meaning it can be stored generally without worries. It is slightly flammable and has a slight contact rating, so some sensitive people may feel some irritation from coming in contact with it.

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