Fumaric Acid

Fumaric acid is also a naturally occurring, organic, general purpose food acid. Although not found ubiquitously or in the concentrations of citric acid, fumaric nevertheless is found in all mammals as well as rice, sugar cane, wine, plant leaves, bean spouts, and edible mushrooms.

Fumaric acid is made synthetically by the isomerization of maleic acid. It is also produced by fermentation of glucose or molasses with Rhizopus spp. (4). It is a white crystalline powder that has the clean tartness necessary for a food acidulant. Table 1 shows that fumaric acid is the strongest of the food acids and is also the least soluble. The low solubility of fumaric acid limits its usefulness in foods.

In processes where 50% stock solutions are mandatory such as carbonated beverages and jams and jellies, fumaric acid cannot be used.

Fumaric acid is extensively used in noncarbonated fruit juice drinks. Its greater acid strength allows lower use levels than citric acid and its solubility and rate of solution are sufficient for this process. Fumaric is also used in consumer packed gelatin desserts because of its low hygroscopicity. The only salt of fumaric acid that has had any application in the food industry is ferrous fumarate for iron fortification.

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