Calcium Propionate2019-04-10T14:06:08-07:00

Calcium propionate is most often used in baking as a bread mold inhibitor

Calcium Propionate

What is Calcium Propionate?

Calcium propionate is a preservative commonly used in baked goods around the world. It works to extend the shelf life of baked goods by preventing mold and ropy bread bacteria growth.

Properties of calcium propionate:

  • Chemical formula: C6H10O4 CA
  • Molecular Weight: 186.22
  • White odorless, crystalline powder
  • Water soluble
  • Active: propionic acid (occurs naturally in swiss cheese at 1%)1


Propionic acid and its calcium salt derivative have been established as antimicrobials for a long time. As early as 1906, Watkins recognized that it was effective against ropy bacteria in bread.2 Since the 1930s, propionates have been used to preserve bread in the United States.

Chemical structure calcium propionate, a mold inhibitor used in baking.
Chemical structure of calcium propionate.


Calcium propionate is most active in the pH range below 5. At a higher pH, the necessary amount of propionate to preserve a food item can increase 500 fold. Therefore, salts of benzoic or sorbic acid are recommended for use at higher pH levels.

Calcium propionate is the ideal preservative for bread and rolls because it has little effect on yeast and does not interfere with its fermentation. In cakes, however, the high use level and available calcium interferes with the leavening action and is therefore not a good preservative.4

In contrast, sodium propionate will delay fermentation of yeast and is not recommended  for use in breads or rolls, but it is prefered for the preservation of cakes.4

Calcium propionate is effective at inhibiting growth of molds and rope bacteria when concentration is adequate to block cell metabolism. If baked good is produced in a contaminated environment without effective current good manufacturing practices, the dose may not be effective in inhibiting mold growth.


21 grams of calcium are present in 100 grams of calcium propionate.5

Commercial Production

Calcium propionate is formed by neutralizing propionic acid with calcium hydroxide.


Calcium propionate is commonly used as a mold inhibitor in pre-packed and sliced bread. It is added during the dough production phase and concentration is dependent on the item and desired shelf life. Typically, in the United States, use level is 0.1-0.3% based on the relative weight of the flour.2

FDA Regulations

In the United States, calcium propionate is affirmed as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food substance under the following conditions:

  • It is used as an antimicrobial agent
  • It is used in accordance with current good manufacturing practices and use does not exceed what is needed for desired effect
  • It is used in baked goods, cheeses, confections, frostings, gelatins, puddings, fillings, jams or jellies.
  • Meets the specifications of the Food Chemical Codex (FCC) 3rd edition. (21 C.F.R. § 184.1221 2018)

The European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated calcium propionate (E-282) as a food additive in 2014 and found no safety concerns for this additive.1 Maximum permitted level (MPL) is specified in Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 13333/2008 on food additives, and the panel does not have any concerns at this level or in these applications:

Category Foods Restrictions MPL or mg/Kg
07.1 Bread and rolls Only pre-packaged sliced bread and rye bread 3000
07.1 Bread and rolls Only energy reduced bread, partially baked pre-packed bread, and pre-packaged roll and pita, prepackaged polsebrod, bolle and dansk flutes 2000
07.1 Bread and rolls Only pre-packaged bread 1000


  1. “Food Additives”, Food Chemistry 2nd Edition, ed. Owen Fennema. Marcel Dekker, New York. 1985.
  2. Luck, E, Jager, M. “Propionic Acid”, Antimicrobial Food Additives. Springer, London. 1997.
  3. EFSA. “Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of propionic acid (E 280), sodium propionate (E 281), calcium propionate (E 282) and potassium propionate (E 283) as food additives. EFSA Journal.12:7:3779.. 2014.
  4. Chemical Book, Calcium propionate. 2017. Accessed 1 February 2019.
  5. Macco. Nutritional Data Calcium Propionate. 2012. Accessed 1 February 2019.


  1. paschal February 26, 2017 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Comment…how and when am I to apply it in bread baking. and how many gram am I to put in 1000 grams of flour.

  2. Lin Carson, PhD
    Lin Carson, PhD March 10, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Paschal, it’s usually used at 1-3 Baker’s %.

  3. Elias El Rahi May 26, 2017 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Can we for fresh packed croissant for 30 days of sheflife?

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck June 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      You could, but Calcium Propionate is best used for products with a 5-7 day shelf life. If you need further consulting, please refer to our quick consult page, here.

  4. Ana Rinck
    Ana Rinck June 2, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Laurent, best is low pH, in a range of 4.5 to 5.5. If you need further consulting, please refer to our quick consult page, here.

  5. Natashia Wilson November 14, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Can Calcium Propionate be use in baking cakes?

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck November 29, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

      Sodium Propionate, sorbic acid and potassium sorbate, and other acidulants like citric acid can be used as preservatives for cake.

  6. Richard Platt November 20, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Hello – would this be suitable for profiterole shells?

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck November 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Yes, it would.

  7. Imam Hananto December 7, 2017 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I did made a trial for Calcium Propionate in Puff Pastry dough to have longer shelf life. But the result of trial not satisfied me. The sample that used Calcium Propionate have acid odor traced and the control sample did not have. Especially if the sample that I put in the room temperature and chiller , the acid odor quite strong. After the dough bake the odor still trace. Also I found this in after bake dough for the sample that kept ini Freezer.

    Could you explain what happens, because the acid odor unwanted in our Puff Pastry products.

    Thank you

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck October 11, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

      We don’t recommend CalPro for puff pastry, this system works best in bread. However, if you still want to use it, make sure to use the recommendation level of calcium propionate is 0.19-0.32% based on flour weight. If more is used, you’ll have that acid odor/flavor.

  8. Sheik thameem April 10, 2018 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    I am using calcium propionate for my half cooked chappath(indian bread) but i dont get shelf life of 7 to 8 days instead i gets only 3 days what is the reason

  9. Ana Rinck
    Ana Rinck May 21, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Yes, you can, but to combine them safely we recommend you attend our Production of Artisan and Healthy Breads Class.

  10. Ana Rinck
    Ana Rinck May 24, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Good idea, but it’s already been done. Let us know if you want to know where to get this.

  11. Wonderful July 18, 2018 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Been having problems lately. My bread don’t spring well in the oven due to a fault in the flour, (low gluten) please what can i do to make it better?

  12. Rhiannon Spratling September 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Would you recommend Calcium Propionate to spray on on yeast risen donuts after frying ? What would you approximate the shelf life to be if so ?

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck October 10, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      We definitely don’t recommend spraying CalPro in your products, it will be a waste of your hard-earned money. Check out our friends from Puratos and J&K Ingredients for ingredient solutions.

  13. agnes January 10, 2019 at 1:24 am - Reply

    I belive thus has healrh consequences. I don’t understand how people can’t correlate the activity of calcum propionate in the bread with its activity on the human gut. Human health relies on the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. I strongly believe that calcum propionate sterilize human gut in the same action as it does in the bread.

  14. M.kayooran February 21, 2019 at 3:31 am - Reply

    what is the reason sodium propionate is suitable for cake (non-yeast leavened bakery products) than calcium propionate.

    • Ana Rinck
      Ana Rinck March 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      We addressed this question, here.

  15. Micki Jacobs April 25, 2019 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Just in:
    The short-chain fatty acid propionate increases glucagon and FABP4 production, impairing insulin action in mice and humans
    April 24, 2019

    the FDA has not asked the correct questions in many cases.
    Also missed trehalose effects, etc.

  16. John April 25, 2019 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Gras or not this stuff affects your health notably in how you process sugars and how insulin works odd we’ve had rising obesity over the last near century and this product has been in use nearly the same amount of time. Food for thought?

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