Usage of Calcium Propionate in the Aqua Industry


Definition of Calcium Propionate

Present especially in baked goods and also in many foods, calcium propionate is a food additive.

The question, however, might arise if calcium propionate is safe to be eaten, and the benefits that it carries for the food manufacturing industry.

Formed by a reaction between propionic acid and calcium hydroxide, calcium propionate is a naturally occurring organic salt. Used as a preservative for various food products calcium propionate is a food additive which is known as E282.

The food products include processed meats such as lunch meat, ham, hot dogs, etc., alcoholic drinks such as cider, wine, malt beverages, beers, etc., beverages such as fruit drinks, soft drinks, etc., dairy products such as yogurt, whey, powdered milk, cheeses, etc., and baked goods such as muffins, pastries, bread, etc.

By interfering with the reproduction and growth of microorganisms calcium propionate acts as a preservative which helps in extending shelf life.

The reproduction and growth of moles and other microorganisms are restricted by calcium propionate, resulting in the extension of the shelf life of the goods. Since baking provides conditions that are close to ideal conditions for the growth of molds, bacterial and mold growth can cost high-priced issues in the baking industry.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved Calcium propionate for use in consumables.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calcium propionate is used in frostings, puddings, jams, cheeses, and baked goods. Unlike the other items in the ingredient list such as eggs and flour, chemical names such as calcium propionate can make it harder to know what precisely the function of this item is.

Uses of Calcium Propionate

Calcium propionate is enlisted as E number 282 in the Codex Alimentarius as a food additive. Calcium propionate is a preservative that is used in a wide variety of products which include agricultural uses such as feed supplements and for the prevention of milk fever in cows.

  • Dairy products, whey, processed meat, other baked goods, and bread are some of the major sections in which calcium propionate is used. Like benzoates do, the propionate present in calcium propionate prevents the microbes to produce the much-needed energy for growth and reproduction.
  • An acidic environment, however, is not necessary for propionates, unlike benzoates. Generally Calcium Propionate is used as a mold inhibitor in bakery products.
  • Most commonly found in the baking industry are near-optimal conditions which favor the growth of molds, mold contamination are considered to be a serious problem among bakers.
  • Bacillus mesentericus also known by the name rope, has virtually been eliminated by the improved sanitary practices in bakeries combined with rapid turnover of the finished product after being a serious problem a few decades back. Mold and B. mesentericus rope could also be avoided with the use of sodium and calcium propionate.
  • The usual first step in the metabolism of carboxylic acids is the conversion of propionate to propionyl coenzyme A known as propionyl-CoA, which is considered to be the metabolic step of propionate.
  • On fruits, calcium propionate has the potential to be used as a fungicide.
  • Calcium propionate was found to be slightly toxic to Bluegill sunfish in a waterborne administration of 180 PPM of calcium propionate conducted in a study reported by the EPA in 1973.
  • A modest decrease in the total level of cholesterol and LDL, without a change in HDL, was noticed in a recent will design translational study where human subjects were fed with 500 milligrams of calcium propionate twice on a daily basis. The study, which requires additional studies of both longer duration and verification to demonstrate the clinical value of calcium propionate, was conducted only for eight weeks.

The result of the study was the demonstration of the clinical value which linked the gut immune system with the gut microbiota metabolite propionic acid (PA) which is a short chain fatty acid to control intestinal cholesterol homeostasis through a novel regulatory circuit.

However, calcium propanoic acid found in calcium propionate is not banned in China, even though it is banned in certain countries such as Russia due to certain bloating and allergies.

Know the Side effects:

Calcium propionate has been deemed safe to be consumed by organizations around the world that overlook the safety of additives and preservatives used in food. Due to the use of calcium propionate, a rare case may happen where a small number of people might experience migraine according to the International Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics published in June 2019.

According to the results published in a magazine known as Science Translational Medicine, increasing glucagon was observed in mice and human beings as a result of the effects caused by propionate intake.

This indicates insulin resistance that might be implicated by the preservative. However, more research is needed to understand because in the prior study only 14 human participants were involved in testing.

In a test conducted, sleep issues were found in children after consuming calcium propionate-containing bread on a daily basis along with poor attention, restlessness, and an experience of irritability. This study was conducted by taking 27 children as subjects. However, the side effects cannot be confirmed without further research and study on human beings. Issues are not caused by the use of this additive in most cases.

Use of Calcium Propionate in the Aqua Industry

With reported beneficial effects for the production of fish silage, acid preservation of fish and fish viscera has been a common practice with the final product widely used in fish feeds. For this process, calcium propionate is often used in the Aqua Industry. The attention of the scientific community was drawn towards the investigation of the effects of these short-chain acids’ direct effect on fish feeds due to the beneficial effects of calcium propionate in the Aqua Industry.

Different species in which the studies have been conducted include shrimps, omnivorous fish like Catfish, herbivorous filter feeders like tilapia, arctic charr like Salvelinus alpinus and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, and carnivores like rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The solubility of calcium propionate in water is considered to be very good. Calcium propionate is also considered to be very vital in the Aqua Industry since the gross energy provided per kg of calcium propionate is 3965 kcal.


  1. What is calcium propionate used for?

A costly issue in the baking industry i.e., molds and bacterial growth is mitigated with the use of calcium propionate which serves the purpose. Calcium Propionate is used to extend the shelf life of various goods in a wide variety of products, not limited to, but including dairy products, whey, processed meat, and baked goods like bread, functioning as a food additive and preservative.

  1. Is calcium propionate an artificial preservative?

Calcium propionate is vegan though the short answer to the above question is yes. Acting as a natural preservative, Calcium Propionate naturally occurs in some foods. Containing 1% propionic acid, Swiss cheese is an example of the natural occurrence of calcium propionate.

  1. What foods is calcium propionate in?

The food products which are rich in calcium propionate content include processed meats such as lunch meat, ham, hot dogs, etc., alcoholic drinks such as cider, wine, malt beverages, beers, etc., beverages such as fruit drinks, soft drinks, etc., dairy products such as yogurt, whey, powdered milk, cheeses, etc., and baked goods such as muffins, pastries, bread, etc.

  1. What is the difference between calcium propionate and sodium propionate?

The major and basic difference between calcium propionate and sodium propionate is that calcium propionate contains a calcium cation bound to two propionate anions whereas sodium propionate contains a sodium cation bound to the propionate anion.

  1. Is calcium propionate acidic or basic?

Being an acid food preservative, Calcium propionate’s antibacterial activity is affected by the Environmental pH value. Gram-negative bacilli or aerobic bacillus are the kinds of mold on which calcium propionate has a strong inhibitory effect when placed in an acidic medium.

  1. Is calcium propionate a mineral?

Being a synthetic substance, calcium propionate is an effective and safe treatment given for generally a couple of days in order to support the treatment of milk fever and/or to prevent milk fever. For cattle, calcium propionate is considered to be a source of extra calcium, which will help to maintain health and push growth in them.

  1. How do you make calcium propionate?

By passing a vaporous mixture of water and propionic acid into an aqueous solution containing calcium hydroxide and calcium propionate, with or without propionic acid, Calcium Propionate is created.

  1. What does calcium propionate smell like?

Being a white crystalline powder available in granular form, Calcium propionate can be more noticeable in packed bread depending on the amount used through the course of the shelf life, and it has a faint odor of propionic acid.

  1. What are common food preservatives?

There are many common food preservatives used to extend the shelf life of various foods and beverages. Here are some of the most common ones:

Sodium benzoate
Potassium sorbate
Calcium propionate
Nitrates and nitrites
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
Propyl gallate
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Citric acid
Sulphur dioxide

It’s important to note that some preservatives may have potential health effects, and excessive consumption of some preservatives can be harmful. As such, it’s a good idea to read food labels and limit your consumption of foods containing these preservatives. 

  1. What is a natural preservative?

Naturally found additives that slow the growth of spoilage organisms like bacteria and mold in baked goods are called natural preservatives. Limiting the changes in flavor, texture, and color is the function of these additives. The consumer expects the natural preservatives to be derived from natural sources such as vinegar, and be effective at the same time. Examples of such natural preservatives are: honey, alcohol, vinegar, essential oils, herbs and spices, lemon juice, salt, onion, garlic and essential oils.


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