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Is Sodium Erythorbate Bad For You?

Also Known As: the sodium salt of erythorbic acid



Short answer

Sodium erythorbate has little to no nutritional benefit. Although most aren't affected by consumption of the additive, it has been linked with allergic reactions, gout-like symptoms, and kidney stones (in those with a past history of kidney stones).



Long answer

Every morning millions of people grab bacon out of the refrigerator and fry it up for breakfast, but how often do we take the time to look at the list of ingredients that make up the bacon? If you do, you’ll notice an ingredient with a hard to pronounce name: sodium erythorbate. What is this strange chemical doing in my bacon you say?

Sodium erythorbate is the sodium salt of erythorbic acid and has the chemical formula C6H7NaO6. It is a white or yellowish powder that is made from the sugars of a variety of plants such as beets, sugar cane, and corn. While it has little to no nutritional value, it is valued in the food industry as an antioxidant. This means it is able to inhibit oxidation (for example, when cut apples turn brown). Because of this property, it is commonly used as a preservative in a large number of foods including meat, fish, beverages, fruits and vegetables. In beer and wine, it works to prevent secondary fermentation which can alter the taste of the drink. While it can help preserve foods and drinks, its main use in the food industry is as a cure accelerator to speed up the development of the pink color in cured meats, and as an additive to help retain the pink color and flavor of processed meats.

One of the benefits of using sodium erythorbate in processed meats is its ability to prevent the formation of nitrosamines, a known cancer agent. These nitrosamines are the result of the use of sodium nitrates and nitrites in processed meats. The use of sodium erythorbate slows the formation of nitrosamines in processed meats.

Ingested, sodium erythorbate is converted into vitamin C and, unless you are specifically allergic to it, there are no real negative effects from ingestion.  In the rare chance that you are allergic to sodium erythorbate, you may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, body flushing, and hemolysis. So the next time you munch on some processed meats and start feeling any of the above symptoms, make a note.  There have been no reported cases of hospitalization due to consumption of sodium erythorbate.

Also important to note: People with a history of kidney stones and/or gout may want to avoid consuming foods containing sodium erythorbate. Excessive amounts of sodium erythorbate in a person’s diet can increase the levels of acidic compounds which can trigger both kidney stone formation and gout.

The next time you go to the supermarket to buy something for breakfast, take a look at the ingredients and see if it contains sodium erythorbate.

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • body flushing
  • hemolysis

Possible long-term side effects

  • kidney stones (in people with a history of kidney stones)
  • trigger gout symptoms (in people with a history of gout)

Commonly found in

  • processed meats
  • poultry
  • soft drinks


  • maintains meat flavor and color
  • decreases chance of nitrosamines forming

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 06-27-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 06-27-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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