Label Decoder: Citric Acid

You’ll find citric acid in a variety of sweet foods like jams, gelatin desserts, candy, and ice cream. Luckily, it’s safe. Here’s some info on how it’s made and where it’s found.
Related To:

You’ll this food additive in a variety of sweet foods -- jams, gelatin desserts, candy and ice cream, to name a few. Luckily, it’s safe. Here’s some info on how it’s made and why it's used.

What Is It?

Citric acid (a.k.a. sodium citrate) comes from the juice of citrus fruits and berries. It’s created by fermenting cane sugar or molasses with the fungus Aspergillus niger. Cooks and food manufacturers use it as a flavor enhancer, antioxidant and to increase the acidity of food, especially when canning. You'll typically find it in ice cream, sherbet, carbonated beverages, candy and reconstituted instant potatoes -- it shows up on a lot of packaged food labels because it's versatile and cheap.

Is It Safe?

Citric acid was first isolated from lemon juice by a Swedish chemist in the late 1700s, so we've been eating it for a while. Experts consider it safe and we have long relied on it to add acidity, which helps preserve food. Some folks may be intolerant to citric acid; if that's you, reading labels is essential since it’s found naturally in many fruits, veggies and added to so many packaged foods.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Label Decoder: Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum's not hard to find when you're checking labels. Candy, puddings, ice cream, even cottage cheese -- it's all over grocery store shelves. Although it’s not the easiest word to pronounce, xanthan gum is one additive that you can chew on without worry.

Label Decoder: High Maltose Corn Syrup

You've probably seen high maltose corn syrup listed on food labels before, even if you don't quite remember where. Did you know high maltose corn syrup is a close cousin to the infamous high fructose corn syrup ? Numerous questions are probably swirling in your head right now. Luckily, we'll tell you all about it. Read on to get the scoop (literally; it's found in ice cream).

Label Decoder: Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is in a range of foods, from cheeses to jellies to carbonated beverages, but what does this preservative do and is it safe?

Label Decoder: Lecithin

You can find lecithin in food and in supplements, but what is it and is it good for you? Find out more about this added ingredient and how it’s used in the processing plant.

Label Decoder: Sulfites

If you’re a wine drinker, you’ve probably seen the word sulfite listed on most wine bottles. Find out why they’re used in most wines and if wine-lovers should find a new drink?

Label Decoder: Cane Juice

Have you been reading your food labels lately? You may have seen the sweetener “cane juice” under the list of ingredients. But is it really better than sugar?

But I Just Want Some Ice Cream!?!

It is okay to indulge in ice cream every once in a while -- just keep these healthy tips in mind.

Make Your Own Ice Cream

Summer may be gone, but ice cream is a timeless treat. Churn your own at home and incorporate fresh fruit and healthy ingredients.

Ree Drummond’s Ice Cream Layer Cake — Most Popular Pin of the Week

Wow your family with this easy, delicious ice cream cake.

Order This, Not That: Ice Cream Truck

Set limits for the little ones with these better-for-you items to order off the iconic summer ice cream truck.

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.