What is Sodium Caseinate in Food, is it Vegan and common Uses

What is it | Uses | Safety | Side effects | FAQs

Sodium caseinate, the sodium salt of casein (a milk protein), is a multi-functional food additive, and together with calcium caseinate, they’re dairy protein commonly used as an emulsifier, thickener or stabilizer in food. This ingredient improves the properties of food during processing and storage, as well as provides nutrition, taste and smell. 

What is Sodium Caseinate?

Its primary purpose is as an emulsifier. The emulsification of sodium casein is mainly contributed to casein. This is because casein is a protein, the molecules of that have both hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups, which can be attracted to water and fatty substances to achieve emulsification.

What is it Made of?

Sodium casein is composed of protein, fat, calcium, sodium, lactose and others.

How is Sodium Caseinate made?

Like calcium caseinate, it is produced by treating casein curd with an alkaline substance, here it is sodium hydroxide. The insoluble casein is converted into a soluble form in this way. 

How to Produce Casein?

Generally, casein is made from skim milk by two methods, precipitation by acid or coagulation by rennet, one is acid casein, another is rennet casein.

The following are the simple manufacturing process:

1. Acid Casein

The fresh milk, after the process of skimmed and pasteurized, then add acid (lactic acid, acetic acid, hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid) and adjust the pH to 4.6 to make the casein micelles lose their charge and solidify & precipitate. Then followed by neutralization and drying.

2. Rennet Casein

Made from skim milk, then add rennetase to form a coagulated precipitate.

Properties

Appearance White or pale yellow granules or powder; practically odourless.   
CAS number 9005-46-3
Chemical formula NA
Molecular weight NA
Solubility Soluble in water 

Synergy

Sodium caseinate itself is a high molecular weight protein that has a certain viscosity in an aqueous solution.

The combined uses with some thickeners, such as carrageenan, guar gum, and CMC can greatly improve its thickening and suspension stability.

The synergistic effect with carrageenan is the best, in addition to increasing the viscosity, it can also improve the emulsifying ability. 

Heat Stable

Its emulsion can be sterilized at 120 ℃ for a long time without destroying its stability and functionality.

What’re the applications of Sodium Caseinate?

With its emulsification, foaming, thickening, hydration, gelling and other properties, plus it is a protein, sodium caseinate is widely used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

Food

Its uses of food grade are more wider than casein due to the water-soluble property. The common applications are in ice cream, meat products, bread, cereal products and etc.

Let’s see its functions and suggested uses in food categories.

Sausage

It can make fat distribution evenly, enhance the stickiness of the meat. The common usage: 0.2-0.5%.

Ice cream 

Ice cream contains a certain amount of fat and non-fat milk solids. The common usage of sodium caseinate is 0.2-0.3%. It is added as/to: 

  1. An emulsifying stabilizer, which can avoid the shrinking and deforming caused by the low milk solids content. 
  2. Reduce lactose content in the formulation, prevent lactose from crystallizing during freezing and storage of the finished product.

Bakery

It combines with gluten protein to improve the stability and gas retention of the gluten network, enhance the dough’s elasticity and toughness. In addition, sodium caseinate can also interact with amylose, thereby soften and extend the shelf life of bread.

Coffee Mate

It is the main ingredient of coffee mate or non-dairy cream due to its three characteristics:

  1. With a high protein content.
  2. A strong emulsifying effect with fat and it can prevent the agglomeration and accumulation of fat. 
  3. Increasing the viscosity and mouthfeel of coffee mate, making the product taste more delicious.

Food supplement

Due to its high protein content, it can be combined with cereal products to produce high-protein cereal products, elderly foods, infant foods and diabetic foods.

In addition, sodium caseinate can also be added to dairy products such as margarine, chocolate, whipped toppings, desserts, and cheese as an emulsifier and foaming agent to increase the viscosity of the aqueous phase, stabilize the emulsification system, increase the viscosity of bubbles, and prevent fat balls. 

Cosmetics

Per the “European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients”, sodium caseinate acts as an antistatic, hair conditioning, and skin conditioning agent in cosmetic and personal care products. (1)

Is Sodium Caseinate Safe to Eat?

Yes, its safety 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

Sodium caseinate is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice (2) and can be used as an anticaking agent, emulsifier, flavoring agent, nutrient supplement, stabilizer or thickener and for other functions in food. (3)

JECFA

Function Class: food additives, emulsifier, stabilizer. (4)

Acceptable Daily Intake: ADI “not limited” set in 1970. (5)

What are the Possible Side Effects?

It is common that sometimes consumers have questions whether sodium caseinate is bad for our health and what are the side effects. There are almost no health risks but some people may be intolerant to lactose and may have problems if allergic to milk as it is a milk protein.

Lactose Intolerance

The intolerance is different from the allergy. FDA states that food containing with sodium caseinate may have low levels of lactose and may cause the following symptoms as follows (6): 

  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Milk allergy

It may cause an allergic reaction to people allergic to milk.

Is it Safe for Pregnant?

Yes, it is safe but better consult with your doctor for the use condition.

Frequently asked questions

Is it Natural?

No, from the manufacturing process mentioned above, we can know casein is a natural but sodium caseinate is a synthetic additive.

Is it Halal?

Yes, it is generally recognised as halal as it is permitted under the Islamic Law and fulfill the conditions of Halal. And we can find some manufacturers certificated with MUI halal.

Is it Kosher?

Yes, it is kosher but it is a dairy ingredient. All caseinates are considered dairy according to kosher law.

Is it Gluten free?

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

Is it Vegan?

It is not vegan as it is made from milk. So vegetarians should avoid it.

Is it Dairy Free?     

No.

Is it a Milk Protein?

Yes.    

Is it an Allergen?

Yes, as it is a derivative of milk which is a food allergen.

Does it contain Lactose?

Yes, it may contain low levels of lactose which the highly sensitive individuals should avoid it. 

Sodium Caseinate Vs Casein? 

Sodium caseinate is the most common form of casein and used widely than casein as it is water-soluble while casein is not.    

Conclusion

Now you may have a knowledge of the emulsifier – Sodium caseinate, from the following aspects:

  • Composition
  • Manufacturing process
  • Uses
  • Safety
  • Side effects due to lactose intolerant and milk allergy
  • FAQs: not natural and not vegan friendly as derived from milk.

What kind of food packaging have you found it in? Let me know in the comments. 

2 Comments

  1. Rosalind Brooks

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