Potassium sorbate (E202)

The potassium salt of sorbic acid is known in the food industry as potassium sorbate. The widespread use of the substance is due to its properties: the additive is a powerful preservative, it inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. By adding it to food products, manufacturers seek to increase their shelf life and shelf life. Considering at the same time that the E202 additive itself is very cheap, it gradually begins to displace other preservatives from the product formulations. This only pleases doctors and nutritionists, as the world community has recognized this preservative as harmless and safe for humans.

Description of the preservative E202 and the process of its production

Potassium sorbate looks like a white powder in rather large granules. It has no smell, but leaves a bitter aftertaste. The substance is highly soluble in water, which is partly why it can be added to almost any product.

By its chemical origin, the additive is a salt of sorbic acid. This acid is found in nature in the seeds and juice of mountain ash. It was first discovered by researchers in the late 60s of the 19th century, but at that time it was not given much attention. Therefore, the antimicrobial properties of the acid were first studied only in 1939, and already in the fifties, sorbic acid began to be mined on an industrial scale and used as an antibiotic.

Potassium sorbate is obtained in the process of acid neutralization potassium hydroxide. To do this, use the bones of some plants, as well as rowan juice. However, the E202 additive is not always of natural origin - in some cases it is obtained by synthesizing chemicals of artificial origin.

The mechanism of action of the preservative, its scope

It is not for nothing that this substance was called a preservative, because it really “preserves” the product from possible processes of fermentation, decay, mold and rottenness. The main spectrum of its action is mold and yeast fungi, as well as some types of bacteria.

In the cosmetic industry, this property of the substance has found its application - with its help, creams, shampoos and lotions get a longer shelf life.

Winemakers appreciate this component and often use it to prevent the fermentation process of wines, but with some peculiarities.

For example, sometimes a wine can get notes of pineapple or celery in its “bouquet”. If the raw materials contain lactic acid bacteria in large quantities, after the reaction with potassium sorbate, the wine will acquire the flavor and aroma of geranium leaves, which is considered a wine marriage.

In addition, the substance is added to such food products:

  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, juices;
  • mayonnaises, sauces;
  • cheeses;
  • margarine, dairy products;
  • dried fruits;
  • canned fish and meat;
  • confectionery and bakery products;
  • sausages and sausages.

It is also used in the manufacture of food containers and packaging products.

Additive E202 as a wine preservative: features of beverage production

As is known, wine is formed as a result of fermentation of wine material with or without the addition of sugar. That is, on the one hand, without the process of formation and growth of the number of bacteria, wine cannot be obtained. On the other hand, the uncontrolled propagation of yeast cultures will simply spoil the drink. Therefore, many winemakers use potassium sorbate, which does not kill microorganisms, but only inhibits their development and growth.

Experts, when adding the preservative E202 to a drink, take into account various features of the “behavior” of the substance in wine. For example, with a decrease in the acidity level of wine, the activity of the additive increases. In addition, the amounts used in the wine industry do not affect lactic acid and acetic bacteria, so the drink must first be brought to an appropriate state without the presence of these microorganisms.

Potassium sorbate is not added to a product that must have a long aging time before bottling.


The amount of sugar in the wine material does not affect how much additive to use. To calculate the amount of preservative, attention is paid to the level of acidity, the level of alcohol content and the initial amount of yeast bacteria in the raw material.

EU legislation regulates the permissible content of potassium sorbate in wine: no more than 200 mg per 1 liter. The substance is not added to dry white and red wines.

Potassium sorbate food standards

Additive E202 is considered safe for humans. However, this statement works subject to the dosage of the substance in food. The norm is calculated not only for wine, but also for almost every type of food, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, where manufacturers usually add this preservative.

The general rule is that the amount of potassium sorbate should be no more than 0.2% in foods.

For margarine and butter, a maximum of 120 g per 100 kg is allowed. Mayonnaises, ketchups and mustards can contain from 100 to 200 g per 100 kg. For sugar and flour confectionery, smoked meat and sausages, canned vegetables, marmalade, preserves, jams, butter creams, the norm is also no more than 200 g per 100 kg. In soft drinks, from 40 to 60 g of potassium sorbate is provided for a weight of 100 kg.

Safety and possible harm of the E202 additive

In almost all European countries, in the USA, Ukraine and Russia, the E202 preservative is allowed for use in the food industry. Studies and studies of the substance have shown that it has a weak allergenicity, that is, in some cases it can cause allergic reactions, which are expressed in the appearance of irritation on the mucous tissues and skin.

As for toxicity, mutagenicity or oncological danger, the world community has no officially confirmed data to date.

Some critics and opponents of the "chemicalization" of the food industry, however, oppose the use of a substance, since, most often, it is synthesized from artificially obtained elements, and is alien to the human body, therefore it can harm human health. In addition, they usually indicate that an additive that has antibiotic properties in the human intestine also behaves like an antibiotic, that is, it destroys beneficial microflora.

Nothing is known about the possible positive effects of dietary potassium sorbate, other than the fact that it inhibits the activity of harmful bacteria.

Judging by the results of research by doctors, scientists, chemists and biologists, potassium sorbate is one of the most harmless food additives today. It helps to extend the shelf life of products, controls the fermentation processes in wines, comes to the rescue in cases where it is necessary to increase the shelf life of hygiene products such as soaps and shampoos, and is used in various cosmetics.

The human body reacts to the substance as if it were a fatty acid, completely breaking down and assimilating it. There are no traces of potassium sorbate left in the organs or in the cells of the human body.

This component, found in sweets, smoked meats, canned foods, meat, fish, dairy products, is proof that nutritional supplements can be safe and work for the benefit of a person, at least until until proven otherwise.