What is carbon dioxide (E290) used for in the food industry?

Carbon dioxide, a key ingredient in controlled atmosphere storage of fruits and vegetables, is used in concentrations along with oxygen and nitrogen to regulate the temperature and humidity of foods during storage and transport.

It is a heavy, colorless, non-flammable, odorless gas that is produced by the oxidation of carbon. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, glaciers, and seawater. It is present in oil and natural gas deposits.

The peculiarity of carbon dioxide is its ability to instantly change from a solid state to a gaseous state at atmospheric pressure, bypassing the liquid stage. In the liquid state, carbon dioxide is stored under increased pressure. The solid state of white carbon dioxide crystals is known as “dry ice” .

Foods with this food additive can be safely consumed by people with gluten allergies and vegans.

Main important points about E290 – Carbon Dioxide:
It is safe.
We recommend.
It is a carrier and a solvent.

Production of E290

Gorenje, the formation of carbon dioxide, occurs during the burning and rotting of organic substances, it is released during the respiration of plants and animals, it is found in nature in the air and mineral springs.

It is prepared in the laboratory by the reaction of carbonates and is obtained industrially by the thermal decomposition of limestone.

What is carbon dioxide used for?

In the food industry, E290 is used as a preservative, propellant and packaging gas, antioxidant and acidity regulator .

Carbon dioxide is also used as a carbonation agent for a fizzy effect in carbonated soft drinks and soda, to extend the shelf life of dairy and bakery products by preventing mold, to keep packaged products fresh during transport to supermarkets, and to cause dough to rise.

“Dry ice” is used as a freezing and cooling agent for preserving ice cream, but also fresh fish and seafood.

Examples of foods and drinks that sometimes contain E290:

  • carbonated drinks
  • packaged foods
  • whipped cream in a spray

Is E290 healthy?

Carbon dioxide is not a toxic substance, therefore it is considered harmless to the human body. However, because it accelerates the process of absorption of substances into the gastric mucosa, it causes, for example, rapid intoxication when drinking carbonated alcoholic beverages. Therefore, drinking soda is not recommended for individuals who have problems with the gastrointestinal tract, as they may experience bloating and belching.

Use in the EU vs. USA vs. world

E290 is approved for use as a food additive in the EU and generally recognized as a safe food substance in the US.