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What is Sorbic acid?

25 February 2009 595 views No Comment

Sorbic acid is a natural, organic preservative frequently used to maintain the freshness of a variety of human foods, drugs, and cosmetic products. Potassium sorbate and sorbic acid possess antifungal, and to a lesser extent antibacterial, properties.

Sorbic acid reacts with other chemical compounds to make what are known as derivatives. Such derivatives include calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, and sodium sorbate.

Sorbic acid was first made by the hydrolysis of oil distilled from unripe mountain-ash berries in 1859. In 1900, the first synthesis or sorbic acid was performed by Doebner. Sorbic acid was made from crotonaldehyde and malonic acid in pyridine. The antifungal effects of sorbic acid were discovered in the 1940s. Sorbic acid was not used as an additive before that time. Food applications of sorbates expanded rapidly after the issuance of the original patents in 1945.

In the United States, sorbic acid is primarily used in a wide range of food and feed products and to a lesser in certain cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and tobacco products. Sorbic acid is used as a preservative at concentrations of up to 0.2%.

Sorbic acid is tightly regulated as a food additive in Australia , and many natural health food stores do not sell products that have been treated with this chemical compound. However, the ban is usually not extended to products treated with derivatives of sorbic acid.

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