Why is ice cream so soft and smooth? It is thanks to brown algae, or more precisely to sodium alginate (E401)

Alginate or sodium alginate is the sodium salt of alginic acid obtained from brown seaweed.

The most used species of algae for the production of alginic acid and its salts are Macrocystis, Ascophyllum, Durvillaea, Ecklonia, Laminaria, Lessonia or Sargassum.

Generally, sodium alginate is produced by reacting sodium carbonate with alginic acid.

It is commonly used to produce heat-stable gels and to add viscosity to foods.

The molecular formula of E401 is (C 6 H 7 NaO 6 )n.

Main important points about E401 – sodium alginate:

It is a stabilizer, thickener and gelling agent .
It is not a natural substance .
It is suitable for children .
It is a potential allergen.
Use in the Czech Republic is permitted.

Where is sodium alginate used?

Food-grade sodium alginate is widely used in frozen and non-frozen milk-based products such as ice creams, yogurts, creams, puddings, cheese sauces and desserts due to its thickening, gelling and stabilizing properties.

But we can also find it in a number of sweets, jams and juices. In combination with citrate and sodium phosphate, it is used as a melting salt in some processed cheeses.

In addition, it is also used to retain water in meat, increase the elasticity of meat products and improve the freshness of finished products.

  • Mix popsicles, Mix frozen cream cheese
  • Pilos Whipped cream in spray, Kapucín vegetable whipped cream
  • Giana olives stuffed with paprika paste
  • Godfather of Sausages The Godmother
  • Apa Paris salad
  • Orion Student Seal
  • Penny Market Poppyseed Buns

Last but not least, sodium alginate is also found in animal feed, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, textile and printing industries.

Is E401 healthy?

Sodium alginate is generally considered a safe substance. There are no adverse effects associated with its consumption and its use in the food industry has been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Excessive consumption can cause poor absorption of nutrients and laxative effects.

Use in the EU vs. USA vs. world

The use of sodium alginate in the food industry is permitted in the EU, USA, Australia and other countries of the world.