Malic acid is an organic compound with the formula HO2CCH2CHOHCO2H. It is a that is made by all living organisms, contributes to the pleasantly sour taste of fruits, and is used as a food additive. Malic acid has two stereoisomeric forms (L- and D-enantiomers), though only the L-isomer exists naturally. The salts and esters of malic acid are known as malates. The malate anion is an intermediate in the citric acid cycle.
Malic acid occurs naturally in all fruits and many vegetables, and is generated in fruit metabolism.
Malic acid, when added to food products, is denoted by E number E296. Malic acid is the source of extreme tartness in USA-produced confectionery, the so-called extreme candy. It is also used with or in place of the less sour citric acid in sour sweets. These sweets are sometimes labeled with a warning stating that excessive consumption can cause irritation of the mouth. It is approved for use as a food additive in the EU, USA and Australia and New Zealand (where it is listed by its INS number 296).