3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E202 (preservatives)|
|Molar mass||150.22 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||270 °C (518 °F; 543 K) (decomposes)|
|58.5 g/100 mL (100 °C)|
|Solubility in other solvents||Soluble in ethanol, propylene glycol |
Slightly soluble in acetone
Very slightly soluble in chloroform, corn oil, ether
Insoluble in benzene
|Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):|
LD50 (median dose)
|4340 mg/kg (oral, rat)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|‹See TfM› (what is ‹See TfM› ?)|
Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, chemical formula CH3CH=CH−CH=CH−CO2K. It is a white salt that is very soluble in water (58.2% at 20 °C). It is primarily used as a food preservative (E number 202). Potassium sorbate is effective in a variety of applications including food, wine, and personal-care products. While sorbic acid is naturally occurring in some berries, virtually all of the world's production of sorbic acid, from which potassium sorbate is derived, is manufactured synthetically.
Potassium sorbate is produced industrially by neutralizing sorbic acid with potassium hydroxide. The precursor sorbic acid is produced in a two-step process via the condensation of crotonaldehyde and ketene.
Potassium sorbate is used to inhibit molds and yeasts in many foods, such as cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meats, apple cider, soft drinks and fruit drinks, and baked goods. It is used in the preparation of items such as hotcake syrup and milkshakes served by fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's. It can also be found in the ingredients list of many dried fruit products. In addition, herbal dietary supplement products generally contain potassium sorbate, which acts to prevent mold and microbes and to increase shelf life. It is used in quantities at which no adverse health effects are known, over short periods of time. Labeling of this preservative on ingredient statements reads as "potassium sorbate" or "E202". Also, it is used in many personal-care products to inhibit the development of microorganisms for shelf stability. Some manufacturers are using this preservative as a replacement for parabens. Tube feeding of potassium sorbate reduces the gastric burden of pathogenic bacteria.
Also known as "wine stabilizer", potassium sorbate produces sorbic acid when added to wine. It serves two purposes. When active fermentation has ceased and the wine is racked for the final time after clearing, potassium sorbate renders any surviving yeast incapable of multiplying. Yeast living at that moment can continue fermenting any residual sugar into CO2 and alcohol, but when they die, no new yeast will be present to cause future fermentation. When a wine is sweetened before bottling, potassium sorbate is used to prevent refermentation when used in conjunction with potassium metabisulfite. It is primarily used with sweet wines, sparkling wines, and some hard ciders, but may be added to table wines, which exhibit difficulty in maintaining clarity after fining.
Some molds (notably some Trichoderma and Penicillium strains) and yeasts are able to detoxify sorbates by decarboxylation, producing piperylene (1,3-pentadiene). The pentadiene manifests as a typical odor of kerosene or petroleum.
Typical culinary usage rates of potassium sorbate are 0.025% to 0.1% (see sorbic acid), which in a 100 g serving yields an intake of 25 mg to 100 mg. No more than 0.1% is allowed in fruit butters, jellies, preserves and related products. Up to 0.4% has been studied in low-salt, naturally-fermented pickles, and when combined with calcium chloride, 0.2% made "good quality pickles." Potassium sorbate has about 74% of sorbic acid's anti-microbial activity. When calculated as sorbic acid, 0.3% is allowed in "cold pack cheese food." The upper pH limit for effectiveness is 6.5.
The maximal acceptable daily intake for human consumption is 25 mg/kg, or 1750 mg daily for an average adult (70 kg). Under some conditions, particularly at high concentrations or when combined with nitrites, potassium sorbate has shown genotoxic activity in vitro.
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Potassium sorbate is effective against yeasts, molds, and select bacteria, and is widely used at 0.025 to 0.10 % levels in cheeses, dips, yogurt, sour cream, bread, cakes, pies and fillings, baking mixes, doughs, icings, fudges, toppings, beverages, margarine, salads, fermented and acidified vegetables, olives, fruit products, dressings, smoked and salted fish, confections and mayonnaise.
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... the preservative used in the study, sodium benzoate, has been replaced by potassium sorbate in the majority of soft drinks.