Potassium Sorbate is seen on many labels in the average pantry, but what is it? Well it is simply the product of mixing potassium hydroxide and sorbic acid together.
The reaction creates fine white granules with a sweet odor known as potassium sorbate. Sorbic acid is found naturally occurring in the oils of unripened rowan berries, also known as the mountain ash berry.
Potassium sorbate is mainly found as preservative in foods, wines and personal care items. It does not affect the taste, color, or smell of food when used properly. While potassium sorbate is not a nutritional supplement in itself, many dietary supplements and herbal remedies may contain it.
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Potassium Sorbate as a Preservative Preservatives are used to inhibit the growth of mold, yeast and microorganisms. This reduces the chances of food borne illness. They also increase shelf life and stability of products. Potassium sorbate is one of the most widely used preservatives by man... more
Preservatives are used to inhibit the growth of mold, yeast and microorganisms. This reduces the chances of food borne illness. They also increase shelf life and stability of products. Potassium sorbate is one of the most widely used preservatives by manufacturers.
Potassium sorbate has undergone extensive testing since the 1950’s and is still considered to be safe for use by the Food and Drug Administration. It also has a rating of 3 out of 10 from the Environmental Working Group for use in personal care products. The lower the EWG rating number the safer a product is considered.
Potassium sorbate works as a stabilizer for wine. When added it converts to sorbic acid which serves two purposes.
The first use is to add it to the wine after the fermentation process is complete and it is racked for the final time. Some yeast may remain even after the wine has been cleared.
These yeasts will ferment any residual sugars into CO2 and alcohol, but the potassium sorbate prevents the yeasts from multiplying. This means when the yeasts die off no new ones will be present and fermentation is completely stopped.
The second time potassium sorbate may be used in wine is when it is sweetened before bottling. It is used in conjunction with potassium metabisulfite.
When combined they prevent the new sugar added from restarting the fermentation process again. It is mainly used for this purpose in sweet wines, sparkling wines and hard ciders but has also been used in table wines that have difficulty maintaining their clarity.
Potassium sorbate is used by large vineyards and wine manufacturers but is also available and widely used by home brewers.
According to the Livestrong website the level of potassium sorbate in food has no known side effects. Some experts, though, believe that repeated long term exposure may lead to the development of sensitivity to potassium sorbate. While there are no studies to prove this, symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, eye irritation and skin allergies.
Potassium sorbate is found in a wide variety of food products including dairy products such as yogurt, sour cream, fudge, dips, cottage cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, and cheese. It is also present in commercially cooked fish like artificial crab meat, fish sausage, roe, fish paste, and frozen battered fish.
You’ll find potassium sorbate in egg products such as dried eggs, and liquid eggs, as well as commercially prepared mayonnaise-based salads and sandwich spreads. It may also be present in fruit juices, nectars, canned or frozen fruits cooked before packaging, preserves, toppings, pie fillings, spreads, jams, syrups, and dried fruits, dried meats, soft drinks, and baked goods,
If you are trying to avoid potassium sorbate read labels carefully! In addition to all of these mentioned above, potassium sorbate may be found in other prepackaged and canned foods to extend shelf life.
Items that primarily use potassium sorbate are facial and eye makeup, skin care, hair products according to the Personal Care Products Council website. Preservatives are needed in personal care products that have high water contents to keep them from spoiling. Potassium sorbate kills and prevents growth of microorganisms.
Without preservatives many products will begin grow bacteria with in only a few days of use. Also the water molecules will separate out and a foul odor may develop shortly after production. Potassium sorbate allows for mass production and shelf stability.
Long term studies show that potassium sorbate is safe and have no carcinogenic effects. This means that these studies have not shown potassium sorbate to cause cancer from people using them in products. These studies have lead many companies to use it to replace parabens in their products.
Potassium sorbate can be altered synthetically to create a better preservative, but is also naturally occurring. This makes it suitable all natural beauty companies use. Potassium sorbate is proven more effective than many other naturally occurring preservatives at stopping bacterial growth.
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