Sodium Silicoaluminate (E554): What Is It, Uses and Side Effects

Sodium silicoaluminate or sodium aluminosilicate, an inorganic ingredient with low bulk density and high water absorption, used as an anticaking agent or free-flowing agent in food. E554 is its European food additive number.

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What Is Sodium Silicoaluminate?

It refers to a series of amorphous hydrated sodium aluminium silicates with varying proportions of Na2O, Al2O3 and SiO2. Its purpose is to prevent powdered food from caking, lumping, or aggregation and keep its free-flowing property.

How Is It Made? 

It is derived from the reaction of aluminum sulphate and sodium silicate followed by precipitation OR by reacting sodium metasilicate, metabisulfite, and aluminum sulfate through steam heating (1). 

Properties

Appearance Fine white amorphous powder or beads.
Other names
  • Aluminum sodium silicate
  • Sodium aluminum silicate
  • Aluminosilicic acid, sodium salt
  • Silicic acid, aluminum sodium salt
  • Silicate, sodium alumino-
CAS number 1344-00-9
Chemical formula xSiO2 · yAl2O3 · zNa2O. Food grade complies with:

  • 66.0%< SiO2 (Silicon dioxide) <88.0%
  • 5.0%<Al2O3 (Aluminium oxide)<15.0 %
Solubility  Insoluble in water; partially soluble in strong acids and alkali hydroxides.

What Are The Uses?

Food grade sodium silicoaluminate can be used as an anticaking agent such as in table salts, dried whole eggs & egg yolks and grated cheeses. It functions as a replacement of titanium dioxide in some applications by a certain proportion due to their similar properties. Meanwhile, for its pore structure, strong hygroscopicity, and ultra-high whiteness, it is an ingredient used in wettable powder pesticides to substitute silica.

Is Sodium Silicoaluminate Safe?

Yes, its safety when used as a food additive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),  Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), as well as other authorities. 

FDA

It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used as an anticaking agent at levels not exceed 2% in accordance with a good manufacturing practice. (2

EFSA

Sodium aluminum silicate (E554) is listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive and categorized as “additives other than colours and sweeteners” (3)

Safety 

In our body: it may be partly hydrolyzed in our digestive tract and release aluminum and silicate ions for which our oral absorption is low. 

Toxicity: no skin or eye irritation, no carcinogenic, no genotoxic or teratogenic potential.

ADI: no need to set an acceptable daily intake (ADI). (4)

Authorised Uses

The following food may contain with it (5):

  • Dried powdered foods
  • Tablet and coated tablet form foods
  • Sliced or grated cheese hard and semi-hard cheese
  • Processed cheese
  • Cheese product
  • Table-top sweeteners in powder/tablets form
  • Salt and salt substitutes
  • Seasonings and condiments 
  • Food supplements supplied in a solid form/liquid form   
  • Fat soluble vitamin

UK Food Standards Agency

Categorized in “Others” (6)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand 

It is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand with the code number 554. (7)

JECFA

Function class: food additive, anticaking agent. (8)

Acceptable daily intake: Group ADI “not specific” set in 1985 for silicon dioxide and certain silicates. (9)

What Are The Possible Side Effects?

As an aluminum-containing food additive, it is common that sometimes consumers have questions whether sodium silicoaluminate is bad for our health and what are the possible health risks. It is generally considered safe but may be related to Alzheimers and other possible side effects.

Alzheimer’s disease

Aluminum is often associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in humans. However, EFSA concluded that the intake of aluminum through food with a proper level is not a risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease. (10)

Possible Side Effects

It is found that aluminum compounds may have the following potential dangers in animals:

  • Neurotoxicity in mice and rats 
  • Influence male reproductive system in dogs 
  • Embryotoxicity in mice
  • Developing nervous in the offspring of mice and rats

Is It Safe For Pregnant?

Yes, it is generally safe but better consult with your doctor in the condition of use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Natural? 

No, obviously it is made from chemical synthesis as the manufacturing process mentioned above.

Is It Vegan? 

Yes, it is vegan as the raw materials are from minerals instead of animal-derived:

Aluminum sulphate: manufactured by the reaction of aluminum hydroxide (derived from bauxite) and sulfuric acid (via the contact process of sulfur, oxygen and water).  

Sodium silicates: produced by the reaction of silica (from diatomaceous earth) with caustic soda and water. 

So it is vegan and suitable for the diet of vegetarians.  

Is It Gluten Free? 

Yes, the production process complies with the FDA’s definition of gluten free, that it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains.

Conclusion

Now you may have a good knowledge of the anticaking agent – Sodium Silicoaluminate (E554), from its production; uses; approved safety, possible side effects and some FAQs such as is it vegan, gluten free, synthetic or natural.

What kinds of food packaging have you found this ingredient in? Let me know in the comments.

4 Comments

  1. Kalli Indellicate
  2. Rob Brown
  3. Lorna Bolongia

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