Sodium alginate is primarily used in food as a stabilizer or thickener. Often it is used in the production of gel-like foods, but can also be found in dairy products and spreads, and even restructured meat, fish or produce products.
Alginates come from many types of brown seaweeds. Sodium alginates are commonly used in the food industry as a natural way to stabilize or thicken foods.
Many dairy products, including drinks, yogurts and ice cream, use sodium alginate in their ingredients. In dairy-based drinks such as chocolate milk and eggnog, as well as in flavored yogurts, the sodium alginate aids in making the products smoother. In ice cream, the sodium alginate serves not only to create a creamier texture but also prevents the formation of ice crystals.
Alginates are also found in restructured fruit products such as bakers' jellies or jams, the pimentos found in cocktail olives and in popsicles. In puddings, pie and pastry fillings, sodium alginate is used for its gel-forming and non-melting properties.
It can also be found in products such as pre-packaged salad dressings, sauces and gravies because of its ability to extend the shelf life of the products and to avoid the separation of ingredients in the dressings.