Fumaric Acid

Fumaric acid or trans-butenedioic acid, is a white crystalline chemical compound widely found in nature. Fumaric acid is a key intermediate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle for organic acid biosynthesis in humans and other mammals. Fumaric acid is also an essential ingredient in plant life.

When used as a food additive, the hydrophobic nature of fumaric acid results in persistent, long lasting sourness and flavor impact. The versatile compound also decreases the pH with minimal added sourness in products with pHs greater than 4.5. Its low molecular weight gives fumaric acid more buffering capacity than other food acids at pHs near 3.O.

Because of its strength, less fumaric acid is required when compared to other organic food acids, therefore reducing costs per unit weight.

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Fumaric Acid is a non-toxic food additive generally used in beverages and baking powders for which requirements are based on purity. It is a substitute for tartaric acid and occasionally takes the place of citric acid, at a rate of 1.36 gram of citric acid to every 0.91 grams of Fumaric Acid for the same taste. It is also an essential ingredient in the manufacturing of candy to add sourness, similar to the way malic acid is used.


Fumaric acid has been used in food and beverage products since 1946. It is currently used in wheat and corn tortillas, sour dough and rye breads, refrigerated biscuit doughs, fruit juice and nutraceutical drinks, gelatin desserts, gelling aids, pie fillings and wine. Food research shows that Fumaric acid improves quality and reduces costs of many food and beverage products. It is also used in animal feed.


Fumaric acid acts as an instant flavoring agent for rye and sourdough breads. Fumaric acid is added to dough ingredients during the dry blending step. Flavor intensity is easily controlled by the amount of Fumaric acid added to the recipe. In English muffins, Fumaric acid significantly increases porosity. Dough machinability is improved and more sourness is provided per unit weight.

Fruit Juice Drinks
Fumaric acid provides more sourness per unit weight than other acidulants used in fruit juice drinks. This substantially reduces the acidulant cost. In fruit juice drinks, Fumaric acid provides more buffering capacity than other acidulants when the pH is near 3.0. Using fumaric acid helps to stabilize the pH of a fruit juice drink, which in turn stabilizes color and flavor.

Fumaric Acid can economically acidify wine with no detectable difference in flavor. The replacement ratio of three pounds of fumaric acid to five pounds of Citric acid can significantly reduce acidulant cost. Fumaric acid also prevents secondary fermentation after bottling and can act as a clarifier when low concentrations of copper and iron are present.

Fumaric acid extends the shelf life of acid coated candies because it does not absorb moisture during storage and distribution. Maintaining a low moisture level retards sucrose inversion. Acidulant cost is also reduced as fumaric acid provides more sourness per unit weight than other acidulants used in dry form.

Jellies and Jams
Fumaric acid can cut food acid costs when used as an acidulant for jams, jellies and preserves. As little as two pounds of fumaric acid can be used to replace every three pounds of Citric, Malic or Tartaric acid. At the 2:3 replacement ratio, fumaric acid does not produce significant differences in gel strength or pH.

Alginate Based Desserts
Fumaric acid is an economical acidulant that liberates calcium. It improves smoothness and optimizes setting times. Also, the non-hygroscopicity of fumaric acid means that dry dessert mixes remain free flowing, even in high humidity. Fumaric acid can be added directly to dry dessert mixes during the manufacturing process without causing degradation of flavor ingredients because of its non-hygroscopic nature.

Gelatin Desserts
Fumaric acid significantly reduces acidulant costs in gelatin desserts. Depending on the product recipe, each pound of Citric acid can be replaced with 0.6 to 0.7 pounds of fumaric acid. Reducing moisture pick-up improves flavor stability and lengthens shelf life. Fumaric acid maintains non-caking and free-flowing qualities. By keeping the moisture content low, fumaric acid helps to maintain the stability of flavor components and markedly decreases inversion of sucrose in the packaged dry mix. It may also be possible to use less expensive packaging if other moisture-sensitive ingredients are not being used in the product formulation. Fumaric acid also increases gel strength, so food processors may reduce normal gelatin content by about 2%.

Pie Fillings
In pie fillings, Fumaric acid can be mixed directly with the starch and sugar ingredients, as it is non-hygroscopic. Fumaric acid lowers costs by reducing the quantity of food acid needed in product formulations. Fumaric acid also improves smoothness and extends the critical cook times for optimum gelation.

Egg White Foams
Fumaric acid can promote maximum volume in both egg-white foams and end products based on egg-white foams. Fumaric acid can replace the more expensive cream of tartar to control egg-white volume. With Fumaric acid, egg whites can be overbeaten for as much as double the customary optimum time. Well suited for continuous flow processes, fumaric acid can be added to both liquid and dried egg whites.

Cleaning Agents for Dentures/Bath Salts

The carbon dioxide generating compounds containing NaHCO3, K2CO3 and powdered Fumaric acid can be tableted with other ingredients to make cleaning agents for dentures and bath salts.

Animal Feed

Fumaric acid has proven to be a particularly effective additive to piglet feed during the post-weaning period. The inclusion of Fumaric acid and the resultant adjustment of the pH value demonstrate improved weight gain, food consumption and feed conversion ratio.

Industrial Uses

Industrial uses of Fumaric acid include:

  • Unsaturated Polyester
  • Alkyd Resins
  • Printing Inks
  • Paper Sizing

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