Sodium diacetate is a free flowing, acidic sodium salt widely used as food flavoring, preservative, and pH buffer. It consists of acetic acid and sodium acetate, and has the chemical formula symbol NaH. As a food flavoring agent, this compound is most often used to impart a vinegar flavor in snacks, breads, and soups. As a preservative, it can effective in preventing the development of several mold strains and is also used as an antibacterial agent to prolong the shelf life of many food types. Recent studies also suggest that it is an effective microbial inhibitor and pH regulator in meat and poultry products.
This crystalline compound is made up of equal parts of sodium acetate and acetic acid. The sodium acetate crystal lattice locks in the free acetic acid molecules until the compound is broken down in a solution. This characteristic masks the very sharp acetic acid odor while releasing the flavor when the compound is wet out during use. It is typically available as a free flowing, dust free salt that requires airtight storage to prevent degradation due to acetic acid loss.
Sodium diacetate is added to a host of food products for its distinctive vinegar taste. These products include savory cookies, chips, sauces, ketchup, food coatings, and condiments. It also improves the shelf life of these products by inhibiting bacterial development. The compound is approved by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European food control authorities and is generally accepted worldwide as the de facto source of vinegar flavoring.
This compound also sees wide spread use as a baking industry additive. It is often included as a mold inhibitor and general conditioner in bread dough, allowing for a longer shelf life for the finished product. Another baking and confectionery use for it is as an anti-rope additive. Rope is commonly caused by bacteria in dough that causes clogging of machinery and renders the dough unsafe for consumption. Sodium diacetate destroys this bacteria.
It is also used as a preservative for red meat and poultry products. The compound is an efficient inhibitor of bacterial strains, such as C. botulinum and L. monocytogenes, that are often encountered in these products. It also serves as an acidity control additive in fresh meat when applied as a buffer agent. Other pH control uses include the foam production and photographic industries.
This useful chemical is also applied in the agronomy industry as a bacteriostatic agent to preserve and improve bioavailable nutrient levels in livestock feeds such as hay. In addition, it is used in the pharmaceutical field as a renal dialysis blend ingredient. Industrial grades of the compound can also be used as buffers and stabilizing agents in the petroleum industry, making it a truly versatile and valuable commodity.