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Why is silicon dioxide used in food?

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Quick Answer

Silicon dioxide or silica is a food additive used for water absorption. It also has use as an anti-caking agent in powdered foods to ensure proper flow with manufacturing equipment. Silicon dioxide also has use as a fining agent in liquids, notably juice, wine and beer.

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A fining agent is used during the fining process where a substance is added to the alcohol or juice to absorb or create an ionic bond with particles found in the liquid. The material undergoes a precipitating process to remove yeast cells, grape fragments, pulp and other particles refining the liquid for sale. The chemical bond allows the silicon dioxide to adhere these particles through complex chemical processes. For powdered foods, it dries the products to stop the sugar or flour from sticking together. Water absorption properties are put to use with drying fruits, although sulfur dioxide is more common.

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