Sorbic Acid, or 2,4-hexadienoic acid, is a naturally occurring organic compound that is used as a food preservative (E Number 200). It has the chemical formula C6H8O2 and was first isolated from the unripe berries of the rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia). Sorbic Acid is an unsaturated fatty acid and has inhibitory effects against a wide spectrum of yeasts, moulds and bacteria including most foodborne pathogens.
Sorbic Acid is widely used in all kinds of foods for its anti-decomposition and anti-fungus function and also in grains, medicines, cosmetics, toothpaste, tobacco, animal feed, latex, paper-manufacturing and pesticides.
Potassium Sorbate, or potassium (E,E)-hexa-2,4-dienoate, is the potassium salt of Sorbic Acid and is a mild preservative (E Number 202). It has the chemical formula C6H7O2K and is made by reacting Sorbic Acid with potassium hydroxide. Sorbates have been shown to have inhibitory effects against a wide spectrum of yeasts, moulds and bacteria and food applications of Sorbates expanded rapidly after the issuance of the original patents in 1945.
Potassium Sorbate is used to inhibit moulds and yeasts in many foods, such as cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meat and baked goods. It can also be found in many dried fruit products. In addition, herbal dietary supplement products generally contain Potassium Sorbate, which acts to prevent mould and microbes and to increase shelf life. It is also used in many personal care products (cosmetics & pharmaceuticals).
Last updated 07 Jun 2010