Citric Acid and Mold

I inadvertently "discovered" something yesterday and want to throw it out into the community to see if anyone else has experienced it.

My husband passed away a few months ago from S4LC; the last month he was experiencing extreme dry mouth from the meds and from low water intake (he had a hard time ingesting anything). As he requested I bought him some sour candy which seemed to help some. I normally don't eat much of any candy but these tasted good to me, too, and I continued to eat them after he passed.

Yesterday I realized that the congestion I've been experiencing started about the same time I began eating the candy. After a light went on in my head, I looked up "citric acid" on Wikipedia where it was explained that it is no longer made from citrus fruit but from Aspergillus niger, a fungus commonly called "black mold". From Wilipedia: "In this production technique, which is still the major industrial route to citric acid used today, cultures of A. niger are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. ....... After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated ......" I stopped eating the candy and by the end of the day my chest began to clear up. I changed NOTHING ELSE! This especially struck me because I have a low tolerance to mold.

Back to my husbands condition: Looking back I realize that his last month (when he started eating the candy) he had an increase in bad phlegm attacks. Yes, his fluid intake was down, but (in hind-sight) the problem seemed to have increased dramatically. If he had a low tolerance to mold, does it make sense that citric acid might exacerbate it? I don't want to sound like a paranoid nut-case. I am not a nutritionist or scientist, but it would seem to me that there is a possibility of some sort of residue or some 'part-per-billion' of the A. Niger still retained by the "purified" citric acid. Now Wikipedia states that "... if large amounts of spores are inhaled, A. niger can be deadly due to a serious lung disease, aspergillosis... " which is obviously not the case for someone eating candy or having a soft drink. However, if a persons health is already compromised and is allergic to mold, is it possible that ANY exposure would be magnified?

I simply want to bring this up just in case there is POSSIBILITY it may cause complications for a person already suffering from breathing difficulty. It is in so many products now-a-days, it's hard to avoid, but is very heavily used to make sour products that people with dry mouth crave. So I was wondering, has anyone with a sensitivity to mold notice any similar occurrences, or "side-effects" from citric acid?


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Trish, I believe there would be minute amounts of CA in candy and would not really cause symptoms unless your allergic to it. There are also other types of production of CA, not just the one on Wiki. This is from the linked article: "There is a great worldwide demand for citric acid consumption due to its low toxicity, mainly being used as acidulant in pharmaceutical and food industries."
Take care, Judy

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Thank you Trish for this. It is interesting. I think that it could in fact have a bearing on someone that has lung issues.
Thanks again,

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Odds of a problem traceable to the method you mention: probably nil. As Wiki also says, that species of Aspergillus is widely found in nature, including in food. It sounds like inhalation of large amounts is necessary to do harm.

PPB isn't going to do it; neither would swallowing a few spores, assuming they're even present.

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I think there are lots of things we ingest that, while not harmful to a healthy person, can wreak havoc in people with certain conditions. I worry about GMO's and growth hormones in particular. The phrase Judy uses that there's "great worldwide demand for citric acid consumption" concerns me, too. Anything in great demand is especially vulnerable to the tampering of unscrupulous suppliers. Only a very small percentage of what we import is inspected.

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Hi Trish, I was interested in your post because I have skin issues whenever I ingest almost anything with citric acid. I always just assumed that citrus fruit, & food/drinks with citric acid additive was just too "acid-y" for me. After seeing your post, I decided to Google "citric acid congestion" & lo! You might actually have an allergy to citric acid itself regardless of its source. Here's an excerpt I found: (& it even mentions that the mild rash--another article specifically mentioned rash around the mouth, which is what I get--is also due to an allergy to citric acid. Who knew?!)

"Citric Acid Allergy

Most people have this problem called citric acid intolerance/allergy. As the name suggests, it is a condition which refers to unpleasant symptoms which people suffer from, in response to foods or other products containing this acid. Symptoms include skin rash, skin redness, hives, swollen eyes, dark circles and swelling of limbs, mouths and tongue. Also, this allergy may trigger runny nose, difficulty breathing, sweating, coughs, sneezes, nasal congestion and teary eyes. Apart from these symptoms, one may also come across ear infections, stomach distress including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc. The same acid is also known to cause psychological symptoms in people. Common ones include moodiness, hyperactivity, aggression and anxiety."


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Did not know this. Almost feels like the same "aha" as when I found the different types of allergies for onions and garlic.

Citirc acid is in ALOT of foods.

Thank you!


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Judy, I realize that the "toxicity is low" for CA, and that it is used in pharmaceutical products as well as food, also that my paranoia and prejudices have a tendency to bite me in the a.. before I have a chance to sit on them (the major production of CA is done in China - as was the gluten that caused problems a few years ago.. my paranoia ;) ) However, "low toxicity" does not mean "none"... but I guess that is true with anything we put into our bodies.. including natural foods. Thanks for pointing out that CA is also being produced by yeast as well.

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Wow, interesting quote Gail! One thing I did not mention in my original post is the depression I'd been experiencing. At first I thought it was the "normal" sadness experienced at the loss of a loved one, but this seemed to go beyond that. After 3 months I was getting worse, not better. That is until today. I quit eating the candy yesterday and today I feel totally different. Not 100% back to my old self, but at least I can function. As the article says, what I may have been experiencing is an "intolerance" to the CA itself.


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Trish, it disturbs me to hear about ANYTHING coming from China! Their products have been implicated in so many poisonings & deaths I don't know why the US still accepts s**t from China! They even poisoned their own babies by putting some junk in baby formula! Their whole system is so corrupt & unscrupulous, they will put anything into food if its cheap & increases their profit. I won't buy anything for my dogs that is manufactured or processed in China.
As a side note...just about ALL the treats Petsmart sells comes from China. This wasn't always so, they seemed to have changed over about 5 years ago. Products that were USA-made were discontinued & they stocked their shelves with products from China.
I recall a 60-Minutes exposé a few years ago where it was revealed the poisonous crap they were putting in medicines. In one drug, they used capsules filled with dry yellow road paint & pedaled it as a drug (I forgot which one) that is a capsule with a yellow powder.
Sorry for the rant, but I am truly disgusted with China's manufacturing processes.

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Ditto that rant.

Guy Who Spent 36 Years Supplying the US Auto Industry

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As a Chinese am ashamed and angry at the way some Chinese people do to make money. Now, even in Hongkong milk powder is limited to bring out because wealthy Chinese come to Hongkong just to buy milk for their children because of the anomaly that some businessmen put in their milk products to make it cheaper to manufacture. It is disgusting and sorry for the mass population who can not afford to buy imported products in China.

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Sunflower, I am truly sorry too for the Chinese population, esp the poorer people, who are at the mercy of the unscrupulous manufacturers & have no choice but to buy subpar & even toxic, Chinese products.
You have no cause to be ashamed, since the root cause is a corrupt system set up by the very rich & an economic divide, as well as deeply-rooted cultural traditions, that leaves the decent, hard-working people helpless.

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I agree with the above "rants" and sadness of what the manufacturers are doing to the people, of all continents. It is not just sad, it is frightening; we are ALL affected.

However, back to the subject: The health, or at least the comfort, of those with lung issues, especially cancer. If even a few of us with healthy lungs are experiencing discomfort because of an intolerance of an additive as common as citric acid, we need to somehow let the care-givers become aware of it. I'm sure that they would be concerned if they realized that the suggestions they gave the patient to overcome their dry mouth might be causing another effect = more phlegm, constipation, mood swings, etc.

But then again, we can alarm people with just about anything.

I wish there were an organized way to give care-givers (professional and loved ones) a place to go to check the signs that indicate there might be another reason for changes other than just "progression of the disease". I guess there are soooo many factors it would be nearly impossible. My frustration hangs on even though my care-giving is done.

done with this rant... for now. Thanks for your patience.

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I never gave the kids candy or milk when they had colds ..they produce mucus...IMO....naturpath told me that 25+yrs ago....I'm sorry about your hubby. Take care of you! xoxoxo, ndm

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Ok this is sorta intersting but I rarely drink anything but water bit this last two weeks I have made lemon aide from a powder. It was the store brand. Like a popular brand. Anyway, both times I drank it I got really chocked up and sora lost my voice. I thought today it was because I was at the golf course mentoring a young person. I had made this drink so I could share the beverage with him. I notice he drank one or two swigs and left it alone. But not me, I drank my 8oz bottle. Maybe I was having a reaction.

I gave up all aspertine products years ago. But I am not sure if this drink I had today had that too.

Seems we just can't be free from problems with our food. I hope the connection to CA and China is false. Just not right.


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There are chemicals of some sort in just about everything to preserve freshness, add color, taste, etc. Most are minute, but if you're allergic it could still cause problems. Even brands like Crystal Light. Read the labels. Take care, Judy

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As others have said, I'm skeptical about the "impurities in citric acid" hypothesis. Per Wikipedia, the production method doesn't just filter, but actually chemically converts the citric acid in the liquid to solid form and then uses sulfuric acid to reconstitute it. That sounds pretty darn pure to me, maybe as pure as distilled water is pure water.

The other hypotheses sound more likely -- a hypersensitivity (e.g., allergy) to something in the product(s) or some other impurities added into the product(s) by the manufacturer (intentionally or negligently). You could continue to experiment to try to narrow down what specifically is the problem for you.

Best hopes,

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I agree. After thinking about what a previous post said about the sensitivity, I figured basically the same thing you wrote; the manufacturing process is complex enough that "impurities" aren't the cause of my reaction, nor my husband's.

And who would think that a thing as innocuous as candy could be harmful, especially considering all the other issues a person with cancer is keeping tabs on. It's hard, when there are so many things affecting and changing their body; what once may have been tolerated, is no longer.

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