Phosphoric acid is a popular soda ingredient for many reasons. It helps to preserve the integrity of the soda's recipe blend minimizing bacterial growth. It also gives flavor to drinks and according to Pepsi Co., consuming too little of it can cause your bones to become less dense.
Phosphoric acid is one of those questionable sounding substances on your soda can. You always wonder to yourself, "Should I really be drinking this?" You might be happy to know that though the stuff sounds really chemical-like, it's actually something that occurs naturally in many foods including eggs, nuts, poultry, milk, meat and fish. When it's used in sodas, it comes in the form of an odorless, color free liquid that is best described as a syrup. Though syrup-like, the flavor is tangy and tart. Most soda manufacturers take extra measures to cover up the soda's flavor with sugar.
What makes Phosphoric acid desirable to soda manufacturers is that it preserves their food from degradation. It slows mold growth and bacteria from multiplying.
Think of the wine making process. In order for alcohol to be produced, yeast feeds on sugar in a natural juice like grape juice. In addition, manufacturers add more sugar to the juice so the yeast will have more to feed on. Phosphoric acid stops from occurring in your favorite soda. Since sodas must contain sugar, soda manufacturers are not willing to let go of the phosphoric acid in their recipe.
Most sodas have a bit of tartness to them. This is one of the reasons that people enjoy soda, the tartness combined with sweetness and carbonation makes these beverages unique. Phosphoric acid contributes to this tart flavor and actually increases the acid content of the drink. In fact, because of phosphoric acid, sodas actually have more of an acid content than vinegar or lemon juice.
According to Pepsi, not only is Phosphoric acid harmless, it is also healthy, however most experts believe this opinion is a biased one. Pepsi did these studies in reaction to several epidemiological studies and a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that stated that Phosphoric acid in large amounts would cause bones to lose density. More research must be done to actually determine which study is more valid.
Phosphoric acid is known by several different names including Phosphoric acid, orthophosphoric acid, phosphoric (V) acid and e338, so if you find any of these chemicals listed on your soda's ingredient list, then you'll know what you're dealing with.
Phosphoric Acid is used in 47 products