Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Calcium Chloride

One of my favorite pasta dishes is Penne alla vodka, but I don't keep vodka around the house long enough to cook with it. Ha! Just kidding. I don't keep vodka at all.

I usually buy the canned version of vodka sauce. I finally examined the label of one I bought recently. (On a side note, I now find myself automatically looking to the ingredient labels, not the nutritional data, which I think is a good adjustment. A product can have fantastic nutritional data and be full of artificial chemicals.)

Most of the ingredients on the sauce label were natural, if not a little processed--things like tomato paste, garlic powder, etc. I wondered of Calcium chloride also fit the bill.

It does. Calcium chloride (CaCl2) is a salt much like Sodium chloride. It's added to foods as a "firming agent (1)." The FDA bestowed GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) status on Calcium chloride, so it can be found in many foods such as cheeses, tofu, or sauces. It is also used in de-icing agents and wastewater treatments (1).

In highly concentrated doses, Calcium chloride can cause skin irritation. In the human body, CaCl2 dissolves in water. It is absorbed in the intestines and the rest is passed through urine. (1)

Safe and natural it is, but is it necessary in foods? Once again, I find that if I made my sauce from scratch I would not be adding Calcium chloride as an ingredient. This salt aids in preservation of texture; it is a staple of the processed food industry.

Calcium chloride. Safe? Da. Necessary? Nyet.


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