Calcium propionate is a preservative used to delay the growth of mold, rope bacteria and other microorganisms in a variety of commercially processed foods. The preservative, which occurs naturally in some foods and is added to others, also provides the mineral calcium and sometimes affects flavor. Foods containing calcium propionate include baked goods, dairy products, processed meats, some vegetable products and dairy, egg and fat-based desserts. According to the watchdog organization Center for Science in the Public Interest, calcium propionate is considered a safe food additive.
Bread and other baked goods that are stored for any length of time develop mold. To extend the storage time of commercially prepared baked goods such as bread dough, pizza dough, bread and pastries, manufacturers add chemical preservatives, such as calcium propionate, that inhibit mold formation. Calcium propionate works best in baked goods with a pH of 5.5 or less and and in products that use yeast, rather than baking powder, as a rising agent. Other grain foods that may be preserved with calcium propionate include breakfast cereals, pasta and noodles.
Dairy foods containing calcium propionate include dried and condensed milk; flavored milks and yogurt drinks; ripened, unripened and processed cheeses; dairy desserts such as flavored yogurts and puddings; and dairy-based spreads. Some cheeses, such as Emmentaler or Swiss cheese, contain naturally occurring calcium propionate, which develops as the cheese ripens and acts as a preservative in the cheese.
Meat products containing calcium propionate include processed meat, poultry and game products; sausage casings; and preserved fish, including canned fish and shellfish. Calcium propionate is also added as a preservative to livestock and poultry feed.
Other foods containing calcium propionate include alcoholic beverages such as beer, malt beverages, cider and distilled spirits with more than 15 percent alcohol. In addition, the preservative can be found in sports drinks, diet foods and beverages, commercially prepared salads such as potato salad, condiments such as vinegar and mustard, soups, sauces and dried or otherwise processed mushrooms, beans, seaweeds and nut butters.
- Cornell University/New York State Agricultural Experiment Station: Chemical Food Preservatives--Propionates and Parabensrel="nofollow"
- Baking Management: Keeping Molds, Bacteria at Bayrel="nofollow"
- FAO/WHO CODEX: Food Additive Details--Calcium Propionaterel="nofollow"
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Chemical Cuisinerel="nofollow"
- cut bread roll and cheese image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.