Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: What is EDTA and why is it in food?

Sponsored: What is EDTA and why is it in food?

First of all, EDTA (calcium disodium ethylene-diaminetetraacetate) is a really long name for an ingredient! But don’t let that scare you. EDTA is used as a perservative in many food like dried and canned beans, mayo, and cooked canned seafood to preserve flavor and color. Using preservatives also reduces food waste.

The amount of EDTA that can be used by manufacturers is regulated by the FDA. the ingredient is GRAS (Generally recognized as Safe) based on numerous studies on both humans, animals, rats and in vitro (test tubes) where they have administered EDTA in very large doses. The reason it is GRAS is that in humans and animals it is eliminated by the kidneys in feces and urine and even at very high amounts (well in excess to what would be used in food) there have been no health or safety concerns over long periods of time.

If you are still concerned about this ingredient here’s what I would recommend:

• Consider how much and how often you use a product that contains this ingredient. If the answer is rarely or seldom is it really that big of a concern?

• Look for products that don’t contain this ingredient

• Write to the brand or manufacturer and ask if they are willing or able to use another preservative. Keep in mind that another preservative may come with its own risks.

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For more information on ingredients and their uses in food please visit:

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian



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