Lactic acid occurs naturally in fermented foods like cheese, yoghurts, soy sauce, meats and pickled vegetables. It is also used in a broad range of manufactured food products as a preservative or acidity regulator.
A spokesperson for Purac, one of the major producers of lactic acid, told Foodnavigator.com that the company has received requests for information on the production process from consumers who have seen it listed on ingredient panels.
In order to make more information freely available for curious consumers, it has now launched a dedicated website www.lactic-acid.com, geared towards curious consumers.
One of the popular misconceptions is that lactic acid is derived from dairy, since it sounds rather like lactose. Some consumers who suffer from lactose intolerance may therefore conclude that they should avoid it.
In fact, lactic acid is produced by a fermentation process, involving the fermentation of carbohydrates like as glucose, sucrose, or lactose.
"There is nothing wrng with consuming it," said the spokesperson.
Another concern is sometimes the association of lactate lactic acid with fatigue during exercise and muscle stiffness after sport.
“However, on the contrary, lactate is actually an important fuel used by the muscles during prolonged exercise, since lactate produced in one muscle can be oxidized in another muscle,” says the new website. “So, rather than causing fatigue, lactic acid and lactate help delay the onset of fatigue and improve sport performance.”
The company spokesperson said that the food industry is very supportive of lactic acid, an its uses are well recognised.
There is no concern that the ingredinet will lose popularity with industry as a result of consumer misunderstanding.
According to a recent report from Leatherhead Food International, use of lactic acid in food increased from around 95,000 to 110,000 tonnes per year between 2004 and 2007.
Food makes up about 45 per cent of its industrial uses; non-food uses include pharmaceuticals, animal feed, biomaterials and detergents.