Due to years of milk advertising, when a lot of people think of “calcium,” they immediately think of dairy products. As a result, some vegans may be worried that an ingredient like calcium propionate might come from dairy. But does it actually?
Is calcium propionate vegan? Calcium propionate is vegan. It is synthesized in a lab, not sourced from dairy products or any other animal source. It is used as a preservative in many vegan products, including bread and other baked goods, as well as some beverages.
Below I’ll explain exactly what calcium propionate is, why it’s included in your food, and whether it’s safe for consumption!
What Is Calcium Propionate and How Is It Made?
Calcium propionate is a food preservative also known as E282. It stops molds, bacteria, and other microorganisms from reproducing in the food. So it helps prevent the food from going bad.
If you’re interested in the chemistry: Calcium propionate is the calcium salt of propanoic acid, which is a carboxylic acid. (All of the amino acids in protein are also carboxylic acids, and so is acetic acid in vinegar.)
All that might not mean much to you, but basically, calcium propionate is synthesized in a lab. It is made by neutralizing propionic acid with calcium hydroxide.
As I’ll cover below, just because this ingredient is made in a lab doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. It has been recognized as safe by several leading health organizations.
Why It Is Vegan
In order to be vegan, an ingredient should not be sourced from animals or require the use of animals in its production.
Calcium propionate is produced in a lab, and from what I can tell, the ingredients that go into it are not sourced from animals. Therefore, it is vegan-friendly.
Foods That Contain Calcium Propionate
Bread and baked goods like muffins are the most common vegan sources of calcium propionate you’ll find. This is because calcium propionate is used to prevent mold from growing in that environment.
Non-vegan foods that contain calcium propionate: Some cheese and butter will also naturally contain it, along with processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meats.
Is Calcium Propionate Bad for You?
Calcium propionate is not bad for you. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO) as safe for consumption after extensive testing.
The balance of scientific evidence suggests that calcium propionate is safe and non-toxic in the amounts present in foods (source).
The human body does not store calcium propionate. Rather, it gets broken down in your digestive tract and the separate components can be used by your body.
Given that calcium propionate is used to prevent mold from growing in food products, it really results in healthier and safer products by preventing mold.
Does Calcium Propionate Cause Headaches?
Although calcium propionate in Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS), it may lead to headaches or migraines in some people.
There is not great data available on this link, but some people have reported getting headaches from various kinds of propionic acid and its salts, including calcium propionate.
If you get headaches from fermented foods, which also contain propionic acid products, you may also be more likely to get headaches from calcium propionate. That said, most people do not get headaches from this ingredient.
Calcium propionate is vegan, and it is safe. You’re likely to see it being used as a preservative in some of your bread, baked goods, and beverage products. There’s no need to fear it! It doesn’t come from dairy or any other animal product.
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