On the Label

 

One would think label reading is a simple task: just look for “citric acid” and foods on the danger list, right?

Sorry Lucy, that’s not it.  If you’re really sensitive, you also need to watch out for ingredients that may be derived from foods on the list, and it’s not always obvious!

Some of these ingredients are sourced from different things depending on where you live or what brand the product is.  Sometimes there’s something irritatingly ambiguous like “flavors” on a pack of deli meat.  Still other times, there’s a label that looks perfectly safe, but the manufacturer wasn’t required to put something on the label (this happens a lot with meats).  In these cases, it is best to call the manufacturer to get the information you need.

This is not a complete list!  If you’re unsure about something, do some research or make a phone call.  If you find an ingredient I should add to this list, please let me know.

Baking Powder
Why? Often contains corn starch and/or cream of tartar
Where?  Baked goods
Want to bake? No worries, you can make your own!

Brown Sugar
Why? Sometimes contains molasses derived from beets
Where?  Sweet foods

Cheese
Why? Milk contains citric acid, and many kinds of cheese are made with citric acid as an additive
Where?  Wherever the mice keep it

Chocolate, Cacao, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Liquor
Why? This one is tricky – cocoa naturally contains citric acid, but lots of ninjas can eat it anyways. See this post for details!
Where?  Chocolatey things

Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Citrate
Why?  Well, citric acid, duh. As for citrates, they are the conjugate base of citric acid – in other words, citric acid minus a hydrogen atom or two. Most ninjas who react to citric acid also react to citrates.
Where?  Most foods and drinks, vitamins, drugs, donated blood, body products, cleaning products

Cocoamide MEA/DEA
Why? Modified coconut oil (see below)
Where?  Most foods, body products

Coconut Oil
Why? Many companies use citric acid to de-gum the oil. Coconut itself also likely contains citric acid, but I have yet to find out for sure. Reports from other ninjas make it highly suspect for low levels of citric acid.
Where?  Most foods, body products

Corn Starch
Why?  Derived from corn
Where? Most foods, vitamins, drugs, body products, feminine hygiene products, cosmetics

Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup
Why?  Derived from corn
Where?  Most processed foods and drinks, baked goods

Dextrose
Why? In the U.S., typically derived from corn (in Europe it is typically derived from wheat and thus safe; anyone with info on other places, please message me!)
Where? Medications (especially IVs), sweet foods and drinks, processed foods like French fries

Diglycerides
Why? Typically made from animal fats (safe) but can also be made from soybean oil (unsafe)
Where?  Baked goods and processed foods

Enzymes
Why? Enzymes can be derived from almost anything!
Where?  Processed foods, supplements

Flavors/Natural Flavors
Why? Citric acid is considered a “Natural Flavor” if it comprises less than a certain % of a food product
Where?  Most foods and drinks, especially those with tart/fruity flavors, meats, and foods with a long shelf-life (e.g. cereals, canned foods, processed foods in general)

Glucose-Fructose
Why?  It’s a sneaky name for corn syrup
Where?  Most processed foods and drinks, baked goods

Glycerin, Vegetable Glycerin
Why? Often derived from vegetables
Where?  Most foods, body products (especially soaps and shampoos)

Lactic acid
Why? Derived from milk
Where?  Processed foods

Lactose
Why? Derived from milk
Where? Processed foods and drinks, medicines

Maltodextrin, Dextrin
Why? In the U.S., typically derived from corn (in Europe it is typically derived from wheat and thus safe; anyone with info on other places, please message me!)
Where? Medications, sweet foods and drinks, beer

Milk, Condensed Milk, Evaported/Powdered Milk
Why? Fresh and condensed milk contain ~0.2% citric acid, evaporated milk contains ~0.25%
Where?  Dairy, foods and drinks, processed foods

Molasses
Why? Sometimes derived from beets
Where?  Sweet foods

Monoglycerides
Why? Typically made from animal fats (safe) but can also be made from soybean oil (unsafe)
Where?  Baked goods and processed foods

Monosodium Glutamate, MSG
Why? Produced by fermentation of cane sugar (safe) or beet sugar (not safe)
Where? Most foods, body products

Oils: Olive, Vegetable, Soybean, Peanut, Corn, Grape Seed, Palm
Why? Derived from citric acid containing foods
Where?  Most foods, body products

Oils: Canola, Sunflower
Why? This entirely depends on processing. Expeller pressed oils are safe, cold pressed oils may not be.  Cold pressing is a chemical extraction process, and oftentimes that chemical is citric acid!
Where?  Most foods, body products

Papain
Why? An enzyme derived from papaya
Where?  Supplements

Polydextrose
Why? Is 1% citric acid by weight
Where? Low-carb, low-sugar, “diet” type foods

Polysorbate 80
Why?  Contains corn
Where?  Sometimes in foods, but mostly drugs, vitamins, body products

Potato Starch
Why?  Derived from potatoes
Where?  Sometimes in foods, but mostly drugs, vitamins, body products

Powdered Sugar, aka Confectioner’s Sugar or Icing Sugar
Why?  Contains corn starch
Where?  Sweet foods

Soy, Soy Lecithin
Why?  Derived from soy
Where?  Most foods, some drinks, vitamins, body products

Sucrose
Why? Nearly always derived from beets
Where?  Sweet foods and drinks, medications

Sugar
Why? Can be derived from cane (safe) or beets (unsafe)
Where?  Sweet foods
Pro tip: Sugar beets are almost always GMO, so if you want to ensure your sugar is from cane, look for organic/non-GMO foods. “Healthy,” less processed foods are also more likely to specify where their sugar is sourced from.

Tartaric Acid, Cream of Tartar
Why?  Derived from grapes, bananas, or tamarinds
Where?  Wine, baking powder (and thus most baked goods), other tart foods

Tocopherols, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E
Why? Often derived from soybean or vegetable oil
Where?  Most foods, some drinks, vitamins, body products

Triglycerides
Why? Typically made from animal fats (safe) but can also be made from soybean oil (unsafe)
Where?  Baked goods and processed foods

Vanilla
Why? Probably contains citric acid, according to lazy scientists
Where?  Baked goods and processed foods

Vinegar, a.k.a. Acetic Acid
Why? Often contains citric acid or citrates. Some companies will write “acetic acid” on the label, even if it is not pure acetic acid and contains citrates, so be careful!
Where?  Most foods, cleaning products

Whey
Why? Derived from milk
Where?  Processed foods, protein shakes and bars

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