What Is Potassium Sorbate?
Sep. 27, 2022
Potassium sorbate is a chemical additive. It is widely used as a preservative in food, beverages and personal care products. It is a tasteless and odourless salt made from a combination of sorbic acid and potassium hydroxide.
Potassium sorbate extends the shelf life of foods by preventing the growth of moulds, yeasts and fungi. It was discovered in the 1850s by the French, who extracted it from the berries of the mountain ash tree. Its safety and use as a preservative has been studied over the last fifty years. It has been confirmed as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when used appropriately.
You will find potassium sorbate in the list of ingredients of many common foods. It is a popular preservative because it is effective and does not alter the qualities of the product, such as taste, smell or appearance. It is also water-soluble and can be used at room temperature.
You may find it has been added to many foods such as
Canned fruit and vegetables
Soft drinks and juices
Potassium sorbate is also used as an antibacterial agent and preservative in personal care products, such as
Eye shadows and other cosmetics
Shampoos and moisturisers
Contact lens solutions
Potassium sorbate is also approved for safe use as a preservative in moist dog and cat food and other animal feed.
Is potassium sorbate safe for consumption?
Regulatory bodies such as the FDA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have determined that potassium sorbate is "generally regarded as safe", abbreviated as GRAS. when you eat potassium sorbate as a food additive, it passes through your system harmlessly, like water and carbon dioxide. It does not accumulate in your body.
What does the research say?
In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed potassium sorbate and two other food additives. It set a provisionally acceptable daily intake of 3 mg per kg of body weight per day. This limit was in response to questions about reproductive and developmental toxicity in animal studies. No adverse effects were observed when rats were given 300 mg per day. The standard set by EFSO has been reduced by a factor of 100 to increase safety.
The maximum acceptable daily intake for humans is 25 mg per kg body weight (mg/kg). For a 150 lb adult, this is 1,750 mg per day.
Make the choice that's right for you
Read food ingredient labels carefully. Pay attention to the food in your food. Even if potassium sorbate and other additives are considered safe, you can avoid them by eating less processed foods.
If you think you are allergic to potassium sorbate, see if the allergic reaction goes away when you stop eating or using the item containing the additive.
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