May 28, 2010- Potassium sorbate is a commonly used food preservative, that is in scientific terms, the potassium salt of the sorbic acid. Its e number is 202, CAS number is 24634-61-5 and its IUPAC name Potassium (2E,4E)-hexa-2,4-dienoate. The other popular names for potassium sorbate preservative are Sorbistat-K and Sorbistat potassium. Potassium sorbate is basically an active ingredient for curbing the growth of yeast, molds and fungus that cause the decomposing of the food materials. Potassium sorbate inhibits such growth and in turn increases the life of the food product.
The list of food products that use potassium sorbate preservative includes cheese and yogurt, dried meats, dried fruits, wine, baked goods, etc. Potassium sorbate is also used a wine stabilizer due to the presence of sorbic acid in it. It is used with sweet and sparkling wines mainly, to prevent fermentation at the last stages of wine production, killing the last remains yeast, fungus or bacteria. This is taken as the final step to curb any kind of future fermentation in the wines. Similarly it also saves the yeast and mold formation in the food products. Besides normal food, herbal diet supplements also use potassium sorbate preservative.
Apart from food and wines, potassium sorbate is also an important constituent of personal care products. In cosmetics and personal care products, potassium sorbate is used as a substitute for parabens that are again used for controlling the development of microorganisms. It is an active ingredient of the daily shampoos, conditioners, lotions, bath gels and other cosmetics that we use on a daily basis.
Potassium sorbate is generally considered safe for consumption and is not known to have any serious health hazards. Conceptually it is not toxic and the amount of potassium sorbate constituents as preservatives are harmless. but then there are food research experts that are of the opinion that repeatedly using synthetic preservatives like potassium sorbate may cause side effects and allergies in the longer run. Probable side effects of potassium sorbate preservative are :
There are small ways and precautions to avoid the probable food side effects and reactions of potassium sorbate. For example we can check for the potassium sorbate preservative presence in packaged foods and the wines that we buy, and avoid foods that have a long shelf life. Another way to avoid potassium sorbate and its side effects is sterile filtering. But the best way to stay away from potassium sorbate is to stay away from packaged and canned foods.