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The sauce is safe: Experts say Chick-fil-A dip ingredient isn’t a … – PolitiFact

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Shown is a Chick-fil-A location in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP)
Some of Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauces contain a small amount of calcium disodium ethylene-diaminetetraacetate, or EDTA, a common food additive that helps preserve flavor, color and texture. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined calcium disodium EDTA is safe to consume in small quantities.
Social media users issued a warning about an ingredient in some of fast-food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauces, claiming it causes severe side effects. But don’t toss the sauce just yet.
In a TikTok video shared Jan. 29 on Facebook, a person points to an ingredient on a Chick-fil-A dipping sauce packet and says, “Hold up, that don’t look right.” The person claims the ingredient, calcium disodium ethylene-diaminetetraacetate, or EDTA, is used during root canals and can cause “abnormal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low blood pressure.”
The person continues, “Too much (EDTA) can cause kidney damage, dangerously low calcium levels and death. Chick-fil-A, you got some explaining to do.”
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Some of Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauces — including Chick-fil-A sauce, Garden Herb Ranch, Zesty Buffalo and Sweet & Spicy Sriracha — contain a trace amount of calcium disodium EDTA, a food additive that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other global food authorities have deemed safe for consumption in small quantities.
Calcium disodium EDTA also is used in nonfood products, including medicine to treat lead poisoning. The side effects mentioned in the video are linked to calcium disodium EDTA as a medication, not as a food additive.
Calcium disodium EDTA is commonly used to preserve the flavor, color and texture of foods including canned soda, canned beans and vegetables, dressings and sauces, according to experts.
Those foods contain only a tiny amount of the additive. For example, the FDA limits the use of calcium disodium EDTA in sauces to 75 parts per million. In other words, calcium disodium EDTA can make up at most 0.0075% of a sauce, according to FDA regulations.
Chick-fil-A sauces that include calcium disodium EDTA contain a small amount that is within FDA regulations, a spokesperson told us. Chick-fil-A lists its product ingredients in descending order by weight, and calcium disodium EDTA is the last ingredient listed on the sauces. The sauce packets also note that the additive is included “to protect flavor.”
When used in foods, the additive binds to trace amounts of naturally occurring metals, such as sodium, calcium, potassium or iron, to help preserve the food and reduce color and texture changes, said Anna Rosales, senior director of government affairs and nutrition at the Institute of Food Technologists.
Given the low amounts of calcium disodium EDTA in certain foods and that the additive is not readily absorbed in the human digestive tract, the possibility of an adverse health impact is minuscule, Rosales said.
Calcium disodium EDTA also is in nonfood products, such as cosmetics and cleaning supplies. The chemical can also be used, as the video said, in root canals and is an ingredient in medicine that’s used to treat lead poisoning.
It is not uncommon for a food ingredient to have other nonfood uses, the FDA told PolitiFact. For instance, vinegar can be used in small amounts in food, but also as a household cleaner.
The side effects mentioned in the video are associated with calcium disodium EDTA when it’s used in medication to treat lead poisoning, not when it is used as a food additive.
When used as a medicine, calcium disodium EDTA is injected into veins or muscles, according to the FDA. Dosage depends on a variety of factors, including someone’s weight, height and kidney function.
A video on Facebook claimed calcium disodium EDTA, an ingredient in some Chick-fil-A dipping sauces, can cause serious health problems.
Calcium disodium EDTA is commonly used as a food additive and the FDA has determined it is safe to consume in small quantities.
The side effects mentioned in the video are linked to calcium disodium EDTA when it is used in medication, not as a food additive.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook video, Jan. 29, 2023
Email exchange, Veronika Pfaeffle, spokesperson, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Feb. 7, 2023
Email exchange, Anna Rosales, senior director of government affairs and nutrition, Institute of Food Technologists, Feb. 3, 2023
Phone interview, Chick-fil-A spokesperson, Feb. 3, 2023
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Calcium disodium EDTA,” Nov. 29, 2022
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Calcium Disodium Versenate,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
Cleveland Clinic, “Edetate Calcium Disodium, Calcium EDTA injection,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
Chick-fil-A, “Chick-fil-A sauce,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
European Food Safety Authority, “Calcium disodium ethylene diamine tetra-acetate,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Codex Alimentarius, accessed Feb. 8, 2023
Consumer Product Information Database, “Calcium disodium EDTA,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
Dental Solutions Israel, “EDTA Solution,” accessed Feb. 8, 2023
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