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Subchronic and Reproductive/Developmental (Screening Level) Toxicity of Complexation Products of Iron Trichloride and Sodium Tartrate (FemTA)


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A complexation/reaction product, termed FemTA, of sodium tartrate [D(–)- and L(+)-tartaric acid and mesotartaric acid], sodium hydroxide, and iron trichloride may have use as an anticaking agent in salt preparations. FemTA is composed of about 4% sodium tartrate, approximately 10% mesotartaric acid, approximately 7% chloride, approximately 4% iron, approximately 7% sodium, approximately 0.3% sodium oxalate, and approximately 65% water. FemTA was tested in a 90-d oral toxicity study, which included a screening level reproductive/developmental toxicity phase, in Harlan Wistar rats. FemTA was administered by oral gavage at 500, 1000, and 2000 mg/kg body weight/d prior to and during mating, or about 20, 40, or 80 mg of iron/kg body weight/d, such that males received 90/91 d of treatment and females 104 to 109 d. Treatment was associated with inflammatory lesions of the lower GI tract at the mid- and high-dose levels, increased liver and kidney weights, increased serum bile acids and blood urea nitrogen, decreased chloride, and changes to hematological parameters consistent with inflammation. The effects were considered the result of iron overload. There were no effects on reproductive/developmental toxicity parameters. The no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL), based on gastrointestinal tract effects was 500 mg/kg body weight/d. The NOAEL for reproductive/developmental toxicity was 2000 mg/kg body weight/d, the highest dose tested.

Practical Application

A new substance, having the acronym FemTA, has been developed to prevent salt from caking in the presence of small amounts of moisture. A small amount of this material will enter the human diet since salt is used in many food preparation processes. As a result, we have tested the material in a 3-mo oral toxicity study in rats. The results of this study will be used to help assess the safety of this new anticaking substance.