chocolate frosted cupcake

Chelating agents prevent oxidation and increase shelf life of baked goods.

Chelating Agent

Also Known as Sequestrant

What are Chelating Agents?

A chemical substance that prevents oxidation and increases shelf life stability via the capability to form more than one bond with a metal ion.

Chelating agents are used in breads, rolls, flat breads, tortillas, crackers, pastries, cookies, sponge cakes, and baking mixes to serve the purpose of increasing product quality, including increasing shelf life to provide a better item for consumers.


A chelating agent acts as a link between one or more compounds creating a more secure attachment less susceptible to oxidation. In the baking industry a chelating agent serves as an additive to increase stability within the binding of ingredients, preserve integrity of the product as well as flavor, color, and desirable texture attributes. The most important function of a chelating agent is the ability to trap metal ions that would otherwise shorten the shelf life of a baked product and lead to a more rapid rate of discoloration and degradation.

There are two key characteristics necessary for a chelating agent to be functional. First, the chelating agent requires two different binding sites available for the metal it chelates, to share electrons with. Secondly, the chelating agent has to have the ability to coordinate with the metal ion to achieve a ring formation. Any agent lacking two binding sites upon which to share electrons or the inability to form a ring with the metal ion at hand cannot be considered a true chelating agent.


  • Ethylenediamine (EDTA): The most universally known chelating agent, EDTA serves as a multi-dentate molecule because it can form two different bonds.
  • Disodium pyrophosphate: Created by the chemical reaction of phosphoric acid and sodium carbonate, yielding sodium phosphate which must be heated further to achieve a second yield of disodium pyrophosphate. In baking, the primary function of disodium pyrophosphate is that the compound serves as a source of acid to react with baking soda resulting in leavening. During fermentation, leavening enables rise in the product due to the formation of carbon dioxide gas creating air pockets within the crumb as well as the evaporation of alcohol. A second function is increased water retention capacity within the baked item leading to increased moisture and longer shelf life.
  • Phosphoric Acid: Functions as a chelating agent preventing oxidation caused by metal ions.
  • Citric Acid: Serves the capacity to slow the rate of discoloration as well as preserve aroma. Utilized as a preservative in fruit fillings of pastries and other baked items.