Antioxidant, nutrient, color stabilizer: Cereals, fruit drinks, cured meats.
Ascorbic acid—or vitamin C—helps maintain the red color of cured meat and prevents the formation of nitrosamines, which promote cancer (see SODIUM NITRITE). Vitamin C is also used to pump up the vitamin content of foods like "fruit" drinks and breakfast cereals. It also helps prevent loss of color and flavor in foods by reacting with unwanted oxygen. Though heroic amounts of ascorbic acid were recommended by Dr. Linus Pauling as a cure for common cold, subsequent research found only that it might slightly reduce the severity of colds.
Sodium ascorbate, also safe, is a more soluble form of ascorbic acid.