Ammonia, found in common household cleaning products, became a hot topic last year when it was discovered that ammonia-treated beef, which the meat industry calls “lean finely textured beef” also coined “pink slime” was being used in school lunches and fast food restaurants across American. But did you know it is not uncommon to find ammonia added to food or used in food production.
Ammonium hydroxide, a colorless liquid chemical solution that is ammonia dissolved in water, is used to kill dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, in food. The Food and Drug Administration classified it as a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance in 1974, saying that “concentrations of ammonia and ammonium compounds normally present in food do not suggest a health risk; ammonia and ammonium ions are recognized to be integral components of normal metabolic processes.”
According to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a group funded by the World Health Organization and the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, ammonium hydroxide can also be used as a food ingredient and is deemed acceptable under the conditions of “good manufacturing practices.” It can be found in tons of foods, including baked goods, cheeses, chocolates, caramel, puddings, soups, canned vegetables and soft drinks.
Read those labels (although sometimes the labels don’t tell everything) and do your research, be an informed consumer!
FYI – ammonia in other forms: ammonium sulfate, ammonium alginate, ammonium chloride and ammonium phosphate.