# Is ammonium hydroxide safe to be used for sanitizing food?

At least one big fast food chain uses ammonium hydroxide for making "pink slime" edible by killing off harmful micro organisms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_hydroxide

Is this product from this process safe to consume?

• The FDA and local health inspectors do a good job controlling food safety in the US. looking at it backwards, that is why some food contamination problem is such big news in the US now. In contrast to the industrial plants, or restaurants, most home kitchens and food preparation would not pass a health inspection.
– MaxW
Dec 17 '15 at 19:25

In pure form, aqueous solutions of ammonia ($\ce{NH3}$) cannot be consumed. Solutions containing 5 % ammonia or more are considered “corrosive” (causing severe skin burns and eye damage).

However, in reasonable quantities or in dilute form, aqueous solutions of ammonia can be generally used safely in food. They are sometimes named “ammonium hydroxide”, “ammonia aqueous”, or “aqua ammonia”. The food additive code (the E number, which is commonly found on food labels) of aqueous solutions of ammonia is E 527.

This food additive is approved in the European Union as well as in the United States.

For example, aqueous solutions of ammonia are used in food processing as pH control agent (acidity regulator), leavening agent, surface-finishing agent, or additive to boiling water.

Generally one should not consume ammonium hydroxide, however I do believe food grade ammonium hydroxide can be purchased and is safe in small quantities.