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Acetic Acid. A colorless, organic acid (q.v.), CH3COOH, that possesses a pungent and penetrating sour odor and a sharp taste. It is fully miscible with water (q.v.) and constitutes the active component of vinegar (q.v.) in which it must be present at a prescribed minimum level of 4%. It may be produced synthetically by the catalytic oxidation (q.v.) of acetaldehyde or by the fermentative oxidation of alcohol (q.v.) by acetic acid bacteria (q.v). It exerts an inhibiting effect on Bacillus mesentericus (q.v.), the bacterium (q.v.) that causes rope (q.v.) in bread and, therefore, finds some application in its vinegar form as a rope-inhibiting agent in bread. It is formed in trace amounts in fermenting wheat flour doughs (q.v.) and may represent about one-half of the organic acids that are produced naturally by fermentation (q.v.) in sourdough (q.v.) and rye breads (q.v.).