In August 2018 researchers from the USA published four case reports of individuals who repeatedly suffered from different inflammatory reactions following the consumption of foods, beverages or vitamins which contained manufactured citric acid. Their symptoms included respiratory symptoms, joint pain, irritable bowel symptoms, muscular pain and fatigue. Citric acid is found in fruits and vegetables. However, it is not the naturally occurring citric acid that is used extensively as a food and beverage additive but manufactured citric acid or MCA. Approximately 99% of the world’s production of MCA is carried out using the fungus Aspergillus niger, a known allergen. In 2016, 2.3 million tons of MCA were produced, predominantly in China, and approximately 70% was used as a food or beverage additive. The researchers believe that ingestion of MCA may lead to a harmful inflammatory cycle which can manifest itself differently in different individuals based on their genetic make-up and susceptibility. To date, no scientific studies have been performed to assess the safety of MCA when ingested in substantial amounts and feel that the use of MCA as a food and beverage additive requires research.
Sweis IE and Cressey BC. Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports. Toxicol Rep. 2018 Aug 9;5:808-812.