Dimethyldicarbonate is a dietary supplement used in fruit juices, iced teas, sports drinks and carbonated drinks as a preservative and sterilizer. In wine, it is destroyed to methanol and carbon dioxide, which are also found in it in nature.
It is used as a preservative to inactivate residual spoilage by microorganisms during the processing of drinks, that is, it is added to the products after they have been processed by other physical or chemical cleaning methods, already to consolidate the result and their residual sterilization from microorganisms.
The food supplement has a broad antimicrobial effect. The food supplement is approved for use in the EU and Russia and is recognized as safe. Some other countries are also allowed, but in more limited quantities.
Dimethyldicarbonate is a colorless liquid with an expressive smell of fruit. It has a melting point of 17 ° C and a boiling point of 172 ° C. It dissolves in water with decomposition, and mixes with toluene, it is also quite soluble in alcohols.
Dimethyldicarbonate has the molecular formula C4H6O5, molecular weight 134.09 g / mol.
Use in the food industry
Dimethyldicarbonate is used in the food industry for additional microbial control in beverages at the final stages of filling. It is added to beverages whose viable loading of microorganisms has previously been reduced by other technologies, immediately before bottling, canning or another form of final packaging.
To ensure its safe use, the maximum amount of dimethyl carbonate that can be added to food is established - 250 ppm. Dimethyldicarbonate exhibits its antimicrobial activity against such microorganisms: Saccharomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Rhodotorula, Candida, Pichia, Endomyces and others.
Dimethyldicarbonate is currently approved as a yeast inhibitor in various beverages under normal spill or canning circumstances when the amount of viable yeast is up to 500 per milliliter (ml) or less.
After destruction to methanol and carbon dioxide, the antimicrobial effect is not preserved. The additive is intended for use as a control of a microbiological agent in the following drinks:
- in wine, alcoholized wine and low alcohol wine;
- in ready-to-drink teas;
- in sparkling or still water;
- in carbonated, diluted drinks containing juice, fruit aroma, or both, together with a juice content not exceeding 50 percent.
In beverages, E242 is allowed for use under normal conditions of bottling, canning or other forms of final packaging, where the viable microbial load is reduced to 500 microorganisms per milliliter or less, first by other manufacturing methods such as heat treatment, filtration or other technologies before using dimethyldicarbonate.
In the solution, dimethyldicarbonate quickly and completely hydrolyzes and / or reacts with various components of the processed drinks, and, as a result of this reaction, dimethyldicarbonate does not remain in the processed beverage, ready to drink.
Actually, dimethyldicarbonate itself does not enter the human body, since it immediately decomposes in a food product, but some researchers suggest that the products of its decay may have a negative effect.
The risk associated with the use of dimethyldicarbonate as a food additive consists in exposure to methanol (the product of its hydrolysis) and the main reaction products (DMC, MEC and MC), but their content in the final product is the same as in any juices and carbonated drinks, without adding this substance, as they are natural components of fruit juices.
Also, the effect of dimethyl carbonate directly on the skin and mucous membranes of a person can be very dangerous and cause severe irritation.
Irritating to eyes and respiratory system by inhalation of vapors. Therefore, when working with this food supplement in production, it is recommended to use protective equipment, such as masks and glasses.
There is information about a possible carcinogenic effect of one of the substances, which is formed during the decomposition of dimethyldicarbonate - ethyl carbamate.
Various international regulatory authorities have evaluated dimethyldicarbonate and concluded that this food supplement does not cause health and safety problems when used in permitted food categories and in certain doses.
The safety of dimethyldicarbonate was evaluated by the USFDA in 1988 and approved for use in wines as a yeast inhibitor at a concentration of 200 mg / L. The European Food Science Committee (SCF, 1992) evaluated E242 in 1990 and concluded that it is suitable for cold sterilization of soft drinks and fruit juices at levels up to 250 mg / l.
In 2001, the Committee set an upper limit of 200 mg / L for the use of dimethyldicarbonate in alcoholic beverages that already contain methanol (SCF, 2001). It was also evaluated in 1990 by the FAO / WHO Joint Committee of Experts on Food (JECFA, 1991).
It is considered acceptable as a cold sterilizing agent for beverages when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice up to a maximum concentration of 250 mg / L.