Are there processed foods (traditionally processed or in a modern factory) where we, or the manufacturer, deliberately add ammonia into it, so that we ingest the ammonia with the food?

If so, what is the purpose of having more ammonia in food, besides the amounts that are already naturally occurring?

  • Do you mean the pure compound ammonia, ammonia, NH3, nomrally a gas at room temperature, or any of the wide variety of chemicals containing this as a portion of their makeup such as NH4Cl, ammonium chloride, E510. If the latter, you may need to narrow down the question.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:40
  • I think I should have said ammonium compounds or salts, since that is the viable way to introduce ammonia into food.
    – Cynthia
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:43
  • In that case, there are a number that are generally recognized as safe, some of which don't have to appear on labels. Can you narrow down the question to make it more answerable as to why they might be included?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:45
  • The principle question is, why add ammonia to food? What is the purpose off increasing the ammonia content? Is it because ammonia is a catalyst/medium to support the solubility or effectiveness of the radical in the compound or is ammonia the intended radical/ion to be inserted into food?
    – Cynthia
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:55
  • There is no single answer to "why add ammonia" probably; it would depend on the specific characteristics and purpose of each individual additive.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


Ammonia (generally ammonium salts) is found in most naturally occurring foods, as is a product of growth and decay

Ammonia gas is used in some food processing line machines to ensure cleanliness of the machines and the food passing through it. The naturally occurring level of Ammonia in many foods is in the 10 or 100's of ppm, so the trace amounts left behind from the processing line would not be noticeable in most cases

Ammonia dissolved in water (Ammonium Hydroxide) is used in some food processing plants (ice makers, milk and beer bottling etc) to clean the rooms, machines, and handling equipment. There will always be trace amounts left over from this process but it should be below 1 ppm

Salamis and fatty cheeses often have the Ammonia level around 1000 ppm; these sorts of foods are often labelled by government food agencies as a "sometimes" food

Some wild game meats may also have Ammonia levels around 1000 ppm, this is one of the reasons some people cannot eat game meats (taste/smell)

Some cultures use Ammonia salts in their food. e.g Ammonium Carbonate as a heat activated raising agent (Greece, Germany etc.), or Ammonium Chloride in salty liquorice (Netherlands, Nordic, Baltic areas etc.). But that is not really adding Ammonia, just adding a salt of it

  • 1
    This is great info, but does it answer the question about intentionally added ammonia?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:36
  • @SAJ14SAJ It does?
    – TFD
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:45
  • @TFD Most of your answer sounds like you're suggesting that it's naturally in things, not that it was added.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 28, 2013 at 1:41
  • @Jefromi It mentions why you find additional ammonia in food (cleaning), and the common ammonia additives. which are not usually pure ammonia, just salts of ammonia
    – TFD
    Oct 28, 2013 at 3:34

Ammonium carbonate is used as a leavening agent: Baking with Leaveners

Ammonium carbonate or ammonium bicarbonate, which we know as baker’s ammonia, is an old-fashioned leavener not usually available in stores, although it can be found in some pharmacies, baking supply companies or catalogues. The positive attribute of baker’s ammonia is that, unlike modern baking powders, it leaves absolutely no chemical residue at all in finished baked goods, neither smell, taste, nor color.

More: Ammonium carbonate

If you don't cook the stuff long and hard enough you will end up with Ammonia (or at least ammonium hydroxide) in your food.

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