What is Potassium sorbate (E202), and where is it used?
Potassium sorbate, also known as E202, is a versatile food preservative used in the food and beverage industry to prevent the growth of moulds, yeasts, and certain bacteria . This additive is the potassium salt of a naturally occurring compound known as sorbic acid. While potassium sorbate can be sourced naturally from a multitude of fruits and vegetables, for the most part, it is produced through synthetic processes. Potassium sorbate is used for its antimicrobial properties, thereby maintaining the quality, taste, texture and shelf-life of various products, including baked goods, dried meat, cheese, fruit juices, carbonated drinks, wine, and sauerkraut [1,2].
Purported Health Implications
While potassium sorbate itself may not offer direct health benefits, as a preservative, its anti-microbial properties and nutritional preservation contribute to the overall safety and quality of products, thereby reducing the risk of food-borne pathogens [1,2].
Allergic Reactions: While rare, some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to potassium sorbate. Such allergies may include skin rashes, hives or itching . If you suspect or have a known sensitivity to potassium sorbate, be mindful of its presence in food products and consult with a healthcare professional.
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI): The European Food Safety Authority Panel of Food Additives and Flavourings (EFSA FAF Panel) has established a group ADI of 11 mg sorbic acid/kg body weight/day for sorbic acid (E200) and its potassium salt (E202) . Consuming within the recommended limits is key to ensuring safe consumption.
Moderation and Balanced Diet: As with any food additive, moderation is key. While sodium sorbate is typically safe for consumption within recommended limits, it's important to maintain a well-rounded diet that includes fresh, minimally processed foods. Relying exclusively on preserved or processed items might not provide all the essential nutrients the body needs for overall health. Incorporating a range of fresh foods into your diet reduces the reliance on preserved options.
International Regulations: The use of potassium sorbate as a preservative is regulated by various international authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) [4,5]. It has been classified as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) by the FDA and is approved as a food additive by the European Union [5,6].
Anyasi TA, Jideani AI, Edokpayi JN, Anokwuru CP. Application of organic acids in food preservation. Organic Acids, Characteristics, Properties and Synthesis; Vargas, C., Ed. 2017:1-47.
Dey S, Nagababu BH. Applications of food color and bio-preservatives in the food and its effect on the human health. Food Chemistry Advances. 2022 Oct 1;1:100019.
Dendooven E, Kerre S, Foubert K, Pieters L, Lambert J, Goossens A, Aerts O. Allergic contact dermatitis from potassium sorbate and sorbic acid in topical pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Contact Dermatitis. 2021 Aug;85(2):171-7.
Younes M, Aquilina G, Castle L, Engel K, Fowler P, et al. Opinion on the follow‐up of the re‐evaluation of sorbic acid (E200) and potassium sorbate (E202) as food additives. EFSA Journal. 2019 Mar 1;17(3).
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Additive Status List. 2023.
European Union. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives. 2008, Dec 16.
We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.