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Food & Beverage Applications of Dow VERSENE™ CA

If you are struggling with loss of product quality, trace metal ions may be the problem. Metal ions, such as copper, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese, naturally occur in many raw materials, ingredients, and processing water, causing problems including degradation, discoloration, precipitation, emulsion instability, rancidity, and scaling. In finished products, soluble metal ions promote unfavorable chemical reactions, such as lipid oxidation and degradation, leading to off-flavors, off-odors, and discoloration. In addition, uncontrolled metal ions have been shown to impact process efficiency with increasing equipment downtime due to scaling.

Chelating agents can help control metal ions to improve product quality, shelf life, consumer appeal, and processing efficiency. Dow VERSENE™ CA is an industry-leading chelating agent that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless for use in many food products. Disodium calcium ethylenediaminetetraacetate, or calcium EDTA, is a compound that binds with free metal ions so they cannot react and cause degradation reactions or scaling. Read below to learn more about its functions and benefits in common applications.

Dressings & Sauces

Copper and iron from processing water and raw ingredients cause the most issues for mayonnaise, margarine, salad dressings, and sauces. Even at levels as low as 0.05 ppm, trace metals can catalyze oxidative degradation reactions, leading to rancidity, off-flavors, off-odors, and other unfavorable product quality issues. VERSENE™ CA food-grade EDTA effectively controls copper and iron by forming stable ring structures and inactivating the metals from causing further reactions. In low-fat and fat-free products, calcium EDTA helps promote flavor stability over its shelf life. FDA-allowed uses for VERSENE™ CA under 21 CFR 172.120 and 21 CFR 172.135 include salad dressings, sauces, sandwich spreads, mayonnaise, oleomargarine, potato salad, and unstandardized dressings.

Canned Beans & Potatoes

Vegetables such as beans and potatoes pose many challenges since they naturally absorb uncontrolled metal ions from the soil. Different growing seasons and natural variations across different sources can also significantly impact the variety and concentration of metals. Uncontrolled metals can lead to flavor loss, darkening or graying, and even splitting during retort and storage, reducing product quality and consumer appeal. During processing, iron combines with natural compounds in beans and potatoes, causing a dramatic color change. VERSENE™ CA food-grade EDTA is a highly effective solution to combat these issues. Adding 0.2% of EDTA to the brine can prevent discoloration and reduce splitting in potatoes and beans during retort processing and storage.

Alcoholic & Nonalcoholic Beverages

Unfortunately, metal ions are abundantly present and highly reactive in beverages. Even at levels below 0.1 ppm, naturally occurring metal ions from processing water, raw materials, and packaging can initiate and catalyze the oxidation of colors, flavors, and vitamins, leading to discoloration, flavor change, and vitamin degradation. VERSENE™ CA food-grade EDTA binds with metals to form extremely stable complexes across a wide pH range. Citric acid, phosphates, and lactates are commonly used as metal-controlling agents but do not perform as well as calcium EDTA, especially at acidic pH. Calcium EDTA is the perfect solution to stabilize colors and flavors, preserve vitamin potency, and halt the degradation of benzoates in beverages.

Pickled Products

In pickling, pesky metal ions cause flavor, aroma, discoloration, and oxidation issues at any point during processing, especially if the product is marketed in clear packaging. Adding VERSENE™ CA food-grade EDTA prior to fermentation will reduce the bleaching of pickle pigmentation, reduce flavor oxidation, and extend shelf life without affecting the rate or degree of pickle fermentation. Calcium EDTA is cleared by the FDA (21 CFR 172.120) for use in pickled cucumbers and cabbage up to 200 ppm in finished products.


Metal ions can substantially impact the quality of canned seafood products. While they naturally occur in both seafood and water, the biggest offenders, iron, copper, and zinc, catalyze various degradation reactions, especially during any heating processes, such as retorting. Small trace amounts of these metals can lead to problems with products, even before they hit the shelves, including graying and fishy off-odors. VERSENE™ CA food-grade EDTA is an effective solution at low concentrations (0.025%–0.034%)  to prevent discoloration, off-flavors, and off-odors, particularly in cooked and canned clams, crabmeat, and shrimp.

ChemPoint Partners with Dow

ChemPoint is pleased to be partnered with Dow to offer VERSENE™ CA for the food and beverage industries. Please reach out to our technical specialists to determine FDA limits of use, to request samples or pricing, or for any other questions you may have. If you do not see your application listed above, reach out to us, and we can discuss it further. Click here to learn about VERSENE™ NA disodium EDTA, also used in some food applications, such as canning and dressings.

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