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Keywords:

  • ascorbic acid;
  • chemical composition;
  • isotherms;
  • particle size distribution;
  • shelf life

Abstract:  Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that is widely used by the food industry in the powder form for both its nutritional and functional properties. However, vitamin C is deliquescent, and deliquescence has been linked to physical and chemical instabilities. Anticaking agents are often added to powder systems to delay or prevent caking, but little is known about their effect on the chemical stability of powders. In this study, various anticaking agents (calcium phosphate, calcium silicate, calcium stearate, corn starch, and silicon dioxide) were combined with sodium ascorbate at 2% and 50% w/w ratios and stored at various relative humidities (23%, 43%, 64%, 75%, 85%, and 98% RHs). Chemical and physical stability and moisture sorption were monitored over time. Additionally, saturated solution samples were stored at various pHs to determine the effect of surface pH and dissolution on the vitamin degradation rate. Storage RH, time, and anticaking agent type and ratio all significantly affected (P < 0.05) moisture sorption and vitamin C stability. Silicon dioxide and calcium silicate (50% w/w) and calcium stearate (at both ratios) were the only anticaking agents to improve the physical stability of powdered sodium ascorbate while none of the anticaking agents improved its chemical stability. However, corn starch and calcium stearate had the least adverse effect on chemical stability. Dissolution rate and pH were also important factors affecting the chemical and physical stability of the powders. Therefore, monitoring storage environmental conditions and anticaking agent usage are important for understanding the stability of vitamin C.

Practical Application:  Anticaking agent type and ratio significantly affected the physical and chemical stability of vitamin C over time and over a range of RHs. No anticaking agent improved the chemical stability of the vitamin, and most caused an increase in chemical degradation even if physical stability was improved. It is possible that anticaking agents would greatly affect other chemically labile deliquescent ingredients, and therefore, anticaking agent usage and storage conditions should be monitored in blended powder systems.