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Malic Acid

Hydroxybutanedioic acid
Apple acid
Food additive : E296
EINECS: 210-514-9
CAS: 617-48-1

Malic acid is a simple organic acid which occurs naturally in many fruits and
vegetables. 90% of the entire acid content in apples is malic acid, and in fact the
name comes from the Latin “malus” for “apple”.

The acid is used in a variety of applications, from a food additive to use in

shampoos, inks and metal treatments.

Applications in foods
When used in food, malic acid gives a clean “fresh” taste, much like the
experience of biting into a crisp green apple. At low levels the flavours of foods
and beverages become blended. This is thought to be because the flavour
compounds associate with the acid and then take longer to be released from the
saliva. This leads to taste buds being stimulated by all of the flavours at the
same time and the brain then interprets this as a stronger, smoother flavour.

In confectionery the most common application for malic acid is to make the
sweet extremely sour! If used as a sour coating on hard sugar candy, the malic
acid granules themselves will often be coated in a thin layer of vegetable fat to
prevent the acid inverting the glucose into sucrose. The acid is also less likely to
absorb water from its surroundings. Should either of these things happen, the
sweet will just become a gooey mess (see coated food acids).

Non-food applications
You may have noticed that when sucking on these sour sweets you salivate
more. Malic acid encourages salivation, which is why chews for dogs’ dental
health often contain it. Dogs’ saliva helps to clean and thus protect their teeth
from decay.

Malic acid can also be used as a gentle cleanser. In shampoos malic acid is an
effective anti-dandruff ingredient whilst in a solution of 1 – 10% the acid is a safe
to handle metal cleaner which will not cause stress or cracking in stainless or
other carbon steels. Because it is a dicarboxylic acid, malic acid chelates very
well with iron and copper, displacing the dirt and revealing the clean metal

Malic acid has two structures which are “opposites” of each other. The naturally
occurring isomer is called L-malic acid. This can be extracted from apples, grapes
and other fruits. D-malic acid is the opposite and can only be produced
synthetically; however it is almost impossible to control which isomer is formed
during production, so a mixture of the two is named DL-malic acid. There is no
difference in appearance, taste or even in how the two isomers are metabolised
in the body. In fact malic acid is produced in the body during the Krebs cycle.