Citric Acid and Mold

The main reason I am writing this article is to address numerous inquiries into the origin of citric acid in one of our popular products, Nano Soma.

Citric Acid got its name from lemons. Citron. and Citrus. Essentially lemon juice. I use lemon juice in water and in salad dressings. It is also found in pineapple.

Citric acid is a widely used organic acid in food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. It can be produced by two main methods: biochemical and chemical. The biochemical method involves the fermentation of sugars (mainly starches) by microorganisms, such as Aspergillus niger or Candida sp., in a suitable medium with nutrients and pH control. The chemical method involves the oxidation of alcohols or hydrocarbons by strong oxidizing agents, such as nitric acid or air.

For pharmaceutical use, citric acid is usually produced by the biochemical method, as it offers advantages such as biodegradability, biocompatibility, hydrophilicity and safety.

The fermentation process can use different sources of carbohydrates, such as molasses, starch, glucose, sucrose, etc., depending on the availability and cost. Most commonly it will be corn starch.

The fermentation process can be carried out in different types of reactors, such as batch, fed-batch, continuous or immobilized cell reactors.

The fermentation broth is then filtered, purified and crystallized to obtain citric acid crystals or solutions.

The yield and quality of citric acid depend on various factors, such as the strain of microorganism, the composition of the medium, the pH, the temperature, the aeration, the agitation, etc.

Dr Palayakotai Raghavan, the formulator of Nano Soma, says that we are making a mountain out of a molehill. He says it for two reasons: citric acid is used in a lot of commercially made food products, and as long as you are eating processed products with bar codes on them, you are ingesting citric acid made by fermentation. And the second reason is the quantity.

In Nano Soma, citric acid is used at 0.15%, or 1,500 ppm. When one takes the 1 ml recommended dose, it contains 1.5 mg of citric acid. For illustration the LD50 (kills half of subjects, tested on rats) the dose is 3,000 mg per kg of body weight. A 70 kg (154 lbs) human would have to ingest 210,000 mg of citric acid to reach the lethal level. That is about 4,666 bottles of Nano Soma.

Dr. Raghavan says: “fermentation techniques have improved to the point where the mold is no longer a threat” and “Nano Soma is stable for years without any growth of any microbe. We have as part of EU had to test it against 5 deadly microbes that include members of Aspergillus family. What is required is LOG 3 reduction. We got log 5 reduction.”

We have a product that is safer than salt and sugar.  Consider Tylenol taken for 3 days – the metabolites last for 5 years in body, causing damage.

The fear of the fermentation produced citric acid fostered on the internet, and of molds (or molds) in general is not entirely wrong. Certainly black mold in your house can cause you to become ill and even severely, and even to die.

But let’s differentiate: It’s like saying because there are poisonous berries and fruits, we should not eat any of either. The silliness of that statement is obvious.

Let’s consider mold, yeast, fungus and fermentation: some people have problems with some specific species: anti-biotics, wine, sauerkraut, cheese. Have you ever eaten blue cheese, Camembert or Brie. These are made with  mold. It is now recognized that some molds are part of our healthy gut flora. See Fungi of the human gut microbiota: Roles and significance.

The bottom line is this: we are required by regulation to have a preservative agent in the product. On balance, the small amount of citric acid provides  more positive than negative effects. It is made by fermentation, and will stay that way. If you want the benefits of Nano Soma, you will have to accept the microscopic amount of risk that is related to mold, and grain.

Author: Martin Pytela