The use of ascorbic acid as a food additive: technical-legal issues

Submitted: 3 June 2014
Accepted: 7 September 2015
Published: 5 February 2016
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Ascorbic acid (C6H8O6) is an organic compound belonging to the family of monosaccharide. It is highly soluble in water, and is often called one of the secrets of the Mediterranean diet. Its use is widespread in the food industry is also important, having always been exploited for its antioxidant and stabilising ability. Many indeed are the additive formulations that take advantage of these properties. The purpose of this paper is to explain the characteristics that make ascorbic acid an important food additive and to emphasise the technical and legal issues related to its use in food productions. In particular, in the course of this employment, laws and scientific studies have been applied to the resolution of a lawsuit, having as its object the use of ascorbic acid in preparations of ground beef sold at a butcher shop. The views expressed in court by the technical consultant have led to the acquittal of the accused, in the light of the demonstrated and proven non-toxicity of the molecule and the use of a mixture of additives for the production of sausage. The European and national legislations, supported by numerous scientific studies, define the possible use of ascorbic acid according to the principle of quantum satis, and it can be used in foods for children. Our work aims to represent further evidence of the safety of use of ascorbic acid as a food additive, and – as confirmed by the legal decision reported – it wants to bring out the prospects for use of ascorbic acid for technological purposes even by registered establishments.

Michele Varvara, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, Valenzano (BA)
Dipartimento di Medicina veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", Valenzano (BA)
Varvara M, Bozzo G, Celano G, Disanto C, Pagliarone CN, Celano GV. The use of ascorbic acid as a food additive: technical-legal issues. Ital J Food Safety [Internet]. 2016 Feb. 5 [cited 2024 Jun. 13];5(1). Available from:


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