Ferric ammonium citrate sources, health risks

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by

Ferric ammonium citrate is a mixture of indeterminate composition consisting of ferric and ammonium cations and citrate (3—) anions, and can be obtained as a yellowish brown powder or red crystals. Also known as ammonium iron (III) citrate, one distinguishing feature of ferric ammonium citrate is its ammonia smell. Originally an oral treatment for iron-deficiency anemia, ferric ammonium citrate is often used as a food additive, specifically as an anti-caking agent and acidity regulator. Ferric ammonium citrate has a similar function for nutritional supplements.

Harmful effects that can be caused by ferric ammonium citrate

The dangers typically associated with ferric ammonium citrate come from handling it. Those who handle pure ferric ammonium citrate should take care not to directly expose their skin and eyes to it as it is a known skin and eye irritant. If left untreated, ferric ammonium citrate can seriously irritate the eyes and lead to more severe eye-related complications.

Inhaling or ingesting ferric ammonium citrate is just as dangerous. Inhaling its powdered form can cause the nose and throat to become irritated, while consuming it can trouble the mouth and stomach.

Ferric ammonium citrate can pose a risk to individuals whose ability to regulate iron absorption is impaired, since it can fill their bodies with excessive amounts of iron.

Body systems harmed by ferric ammonium citrate

To anyone who is constantly exposed to powdered ferric ammonium citrate, their eyes, skin, respiratory system and digestive system are most at risk.

Where to learn more


Ferric ammonium citrate can be dangerous if not handled correctly. It can irritate the lungs, eyes, skin, and stomach. Moreover, people who have difficulty absorbing iron can be affected by the iron content of ferric ammonium citrate.

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