What is Monocalcium Phosphate E341(i) in Food: Vegan, Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is it | Production | Uses | Safety | Side Effects | FAQs

Monocalcium phosphate (MCP), or calcium dihydrogen phosphate, its food grade commonly used with sodium bicarbonate as a leavening agent in bakery foods. The European food additive number for it is E341(I). Generally, it is vegan, gluten free and dairy free.

What is Monocalcium Phosphate?

It is an inorganic compound derived from naturally occurring minerals and existing in two types:

  1. anhydrous with the chemical formula Ca(H2PO4)2 
  2. monohydrate the commonly form and with the chemical formula Ca(H2PO4)2·H2O

What is it Made From? 

Usually, it is produced by the reaction of calcium hydroxide or calcium carbonate with phosphoric acid. Food grade phosphoric acid is made from phosphate rocks by two main methods, a wet process or an electrothermal process. (1)

  1. In the wet process: phosphate rock is digested with a mineral acid, usually sulfuric acid, but nitric or hydrochloric acids may also be used. 
  2. In the electrothermal process: the phosphate rock, coke and silica are heated in an electric resistance furnace to more than 1,100°C to extract elemental phosphorus from the ore. The elemental phosphorus is then oxidised to P4O10 (phosphorus pentoxide) and subsequently hydrated and the mist is collected. 

Properties

Appearance

Granular powder or white, deliquescent crystals or granules. 

Solubility 

Sparingly soluble in water with the solubility 1.8%, 30°C. The PH value of its solution is around 3 due to the phosphoric acid produced by its hydrolysis in water. Insoluble in ethanol.

Other Names

  • Monobasic calcium phosphate
  • Monocalcium orthophosphate
  • Phosphoric acid, calcium salt (2:1)

CAS Number

7758-23-8

Molecular Weight

  1. 234.05 (anhydrous)
  2. 252.08 (monohydrate)

What are the Uses of Monocalcium Phosphate?

MCP food grade is used as an acid component in baking powder; feed grade as a nutrition supplement of calcium and phosphorus in animal and poultry; and as a superphosphate fertilizer in agriculture.

Food

Monocalcium phosphate is a leavening acid commonly found in baked goods. Its purpose is to react with baking soda to provide aeration and volume by releasing carbon dioxide in the presence of water. The application such as in bread, biscuits, cookies, pancakes, self-rising flour, single and double-acting baking powder.

It is also often combined with slow-acting acids such as sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate and sodium aluminum phosphate in double-acting baking powders.

Feed

Mono, di- and tricalcium phosphate are the three main types of inorganic feed phosphates. Mono and dicalcium phosphate (produced by calcined MCP at 270–350°C) are the most commonly used forms. 

MCP feed grade benefits animal and poultry in both phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca):

  • Calcium: firms bone tissue and skeleton. 
  • Phosphorus: one of the most important minerals in animal nutrition. It plays an important role in the growth and cell differentiation (DNA), metabolism of energy and protein, controlling of appetite, the efficiency of feed utilization, fertility and etc. 

Fertilizer

It supplies P and Ca nutrients to plants. It has the highest P content of dry fertilizers without nitrogen (N) which is suitable to plant that does not need additional N supplement. 

Is Monocalcium Phosphate Safe to Eat?

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 in accordance with good manufacturing practice (2) AND can be used as a dough strengthener, firming agent, flour treating agent, leavening agent, malting or fermenting aid, nutrient supplement, ph control agent, sequestrant, stabilizer or thickener in food. (3

The following is the application and usage advised by the FDA (4):

Food Category Uses Level
Bread, rolls, and buns. <0.75%
Self-rising flour, self-rising white corn meal The combined weight of monocalcium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate is not more than 4.5%
Phosphated flour > 0.25% and < 0.75%

Also, it is approved to add in fruit butters, jellies & preserves and canned vegetables.

EFSA

Monocalcium phosphate (E341i) is listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive and categorized as “additives other than colours and sweeteners” (5)

Safety Re-evaluation in 2019

In 2019, EFSA considered phosphates to be of low acute oral toxicity and there was no concern with respect to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Also, no effects were reported in developmental toxicity studies.

EFSA derived a group acceptable daily intake (ADI) for phosphates expressed as phosphorus of 40 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day and concluded that this ADI is protective for the human population.

Authorised Uses And Use Levels

Its application is listed together with other calcium phosphates by E 341. Its max uses level is 1000 (mg/l or mg/kg as appropriate) in almost all authorized food categories except in table-top sweeteners in powder form, which is QS.

The following foods may contain with it (6):

  • Table-top sweeteners in powder form
  • Cereals products
  • Fruit-based desserts
  • Dietary foods for infants for special medical purposes and special formulae for infants

UK Food Standards Agency

Categorized in “Others” (7)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand 

It is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand with the code number 341 as the name of calcium phosphate, monobasic or calcium dihydrogen phosphate. (8)

JECFA

Function Class: food additives, acidity regulator, firming agent, flour treatment agent, leavening agent, nutrient supplement, raising agent, sequestrant, texturizer, thickener and yeast food. (9)

Tolerable Intake: MTDI 70 mg/kg bw (as P) set in 1987. (10)

What are the Possible Side Effects?

It is common that sometimes consumers have questions whether monocalcium phosphate is bad for our health and what are the possible health risks. We understand that consumers prefer natural food additives and have concerns about the synthesized ingredients in the foods we eat. It is generally considered safe but some people may be allergic or sensitive to it.

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, it is derived from chemical synthesis.

Is it Vegan? 

Yes, it is vegan as the raw materials calcium hydroxide or calcium carbonate usually come from limestone and other rocks instead of animal sources, such as oysters and mussel shells; also, phosphoric acid is from phosphate rocks. So it is vegan and suitable for the diet of vegetarians.  

Is it Dairy Free?

Yes, it is dairy free as the calcium usually comes from limestone instead of animal sources. So people who’re lactose intolerance or with milk allergy can eat the food with it.

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 pareve. E341(i) has met all the “kashruth” requirements and can be certified as kosher. 

Is it Gluten Free? 

Yes, it is typically gluten-free and people with celiacs can eat it. It is an ingredient commonly found in both gluten-free and gluten-containing food labels. The production complies with the FDA’s definition of gluten free, that it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains.

What is it Made Of?

The anhydrous form is the pure Ca(H2PO4)2 while the monohydrate type is composed of one molecule Ca(H2PO4)2 and one molecule water.

How Much Calcium in it?

Anhydrous: Not less than 16.8% and not more than 18.3% of Ca

Monohydrate: Not less than 15.9% and not more than 17.7% of Ca

How Much Phosphorous in it?

P2O5 content between 55.5 % and 61.1 % on the anhydrous basis.

Is it A Preservative?

No.

Is it a Weak Acid?

Yes, calcium dihydrogen phosphate is a weak acid and makes up of baking powder with sodium bicarbonate. It is a quick-reacting leavening acid which releases carbon dioxide within minutes of mixing after the reaction with baking soda. 

Conclusion

Now you may have a knowledge of Monocalcium phosphate (E341i), from the following aspects:

  • Two types: anhydrous and monohydrate
  • Manufacturing processes.
  • Uses in food, feed, and fertilizer 
  • Safety
  • Side effects
  • FAQs: is it vegan, dairy free and so on.

What do you think of this additive? Let me know in the comments.

2 Comments

  1. Abburi Rao

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