Sodium propionate sources, health risks

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by

Sodium propionate is the salt form of propionic acid, which is an organic substance produced during the chemical degradation of sugar. The salt is naturally produced in the body when certain fatty acids and amino acids are metabolized and aids in digestion. However, on a commercial scale, food manufacturers use the salt as a preservative and as a mold inhibitor. It is mostly used among bread makers or brands that deal with a lot of wheat or whey.

Sodium propionate is recognized as generally safe, when used correctly. Ideally, the salt should only be used at its recommended limits (which are typically very low). Any consumption in excess of what is suggested can cause several health problems, least of which is gastrointestinal damage.

Harmful effects that can be caused by sodium propionate

Sodium propionate should not, in any way, change the texture or taste of the food item in question. The recommended doses of the salt are such that it is enough to prevent the growth of mold and some bacteria in the product without exhibiting any real physical change. This caution is given to prevent any damage that can occur in the stomach lining.

Researchers are still unsure how the salt harms the gastrointestinal tract but posit that the body is not meant to digest excessive amounts of sodium propionate. Studies have shown that taking in too much of the salt can cause distress, with symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Regular consumption can lead to organ damage and eventually failure.

Sodium propionate should likewise be handled with extreme care. The salt is not highly combustible but can give off toxic fumes or gases in a fire. Those who have inhaled the compound can develop a very irritating, often dry cough accompanied by a sore throat. Immediately seek medical attention, as prolonged exposure to the salt may eventually corrode the lungs.

The salt can also irritate the eyes. Wear safety goggles whenever you are in contact with the salt. Sodium propionate can burn off contact lenses. Rinse your eyes at once and visit your local hospital’s emergency unit.

Body systems harmed by sodium propionate

Sodium propionate damages the gastrointestinal tract and can cause skin irritation. It is corrosive and should be handled with care.

Where to learn more

Summary

Sodium propionate is used to prevent mold and extend the shelf life of various food products. Used correctly, the salt – the chemical byproduct of the degradation of sugar – should be relatively safe. However, incorrect usage or handling of it can cause organ damage and failure.

Sources include:

WorldofChemicals.com

ToxNet.NLM.NIH.gov

LiveStrong.com

CDC.gov



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