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Food Preservatives

A food preservative is a natural or synthetic chemical that is added to foods or pharmaceuticals to retard spoilage, whether from microbial growth, or undesirable chemical changes.

Some methods of food preservation involve the use of salt, sugar or vinegar, which are sometimes considered to be foods rather than additives. Some people believe preservatives are harmful to our health.

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Number
Name
Comments
E200
Sorbic acid
either obtained from berries or synthesised from ketene; possible skin irritant
E201
Sodium sorbate
no known adverse effects
E202
Potassium sorbate
no known adverse effects
E203
Calcium sorbate
no known adverse effects
E210#
Benzoic acid
also known as flowers of benzoin, phenlycarboxylic acid, carboxybenzene; added to alcoholic beverages, baked goods, cheeses, gum, condiments, frozen dairy, relishes, soft sweets, cordials and sugar substitutes; used in cosmetics, as an antiseptic in many cough medications and an antifungal in ointments; can cause asthma, especially in those dependant on steroid asthma medications, is also reputed to cause neurological disorders and to react with sulphur bisulphite (222), shown to provoke hyperactivity in children; obtained from Benzoin, a resin exuded by trees native to Asia
E211
Sodium benzoate
used as antiseptic, as a food preservative and to disguise taste, as of poor-quality food; orange soft drinks contain a high amount of it, upto 25mg per 250ml; also in milk and meat products, relishes and condiments, baked goods and lollies; used in many oral medications including Actifed, Phenergan and Tylenol; known to causes nettle rash and aggravate asthma
E212
Potassium benzoate
people with a history of allergies may show allergic reactions. for using see 210
E213
Calcium benzoate
see 212
E214
Ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E215
Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E216
Propyl p-hydroxybenzoate
possible contact allergen
E217
Sodium propyl p-hydroxybenzoate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E218
Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
allergic reactions possible, mainly affecting the skin
E219
Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E220
Sulphur dioxide
derived from coal tar; all sulphur drugs are toxic and restricted in use (in USA, FDA** prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables), produced by combustion of sulphur or gypsum; known to provoke asthma attacks and difficult to metabolise for those with impaired kidney function, also destroys vitamin B1; typical products are beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, potato products
E221
Sodium sulphite
decontaminating agent used in fresh orange juice; see 220
E222
Sodium hydrogen sulphite
see 220
E223
Sodium metabisulphite
treating agent, see 220
E224
Potassium metabisulphite
see 220
E225
Potassium sulphite
see 220
E226
Calcium sulphite
avoid it, banned in some countries
E227
Calcium hydrogen sulphite
avoid it, banned in some countries
E228
Potassium hydrogen sulphite
see 220
E230
Biphenyl, Diphenyl
banned in some countries; can be used for agricultural purposes; typical products are citrus fruit
E231
Orthophenyl phenol
banned in some countries; can be used for agricultural purposes; typical products are pears, carrots, peaches, plums, prunes, sweet potatoe, citrus fruit, pineapples, tomatoes, peppers, cherries, nectarines
E232
Sodium orthophenyl phenol
see 231
E233
Thiabendazole
banned in some countries, can be used for agricultural purposes, typical products are citrus fruits, apples, pears, potatoes, bananas, mushrooms, meat, milk
E234
Nisin
antibiotic derived from bacteria; found in beer, processed cheese products, tomato paste
E235
Natamycin
mould inhibitor derived from bacteria; sometimes used medically to treat candidiasis; can cause nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhoea and skin irritation;.typical products are meat, cheese
E236
Formic acid
avoid it, banned in some countries
E237
Sodium formate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E238
Calcium formate
avoid it, banned in some countries
E239
Hexamethylene tetramine
avoid it, banned in some countries
E249
Potassium nitrite
colour fixative and curing agent for meat; nitrites can effect the body's ability to carry oxygen, resulting in shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches; potential carcinogen; not permitted in foods for infant and young children
E250
Sodium nitrite
may provoke hyperactivity and other adverse reactions, potentially carcinogenic, restricted in many countries, can combine with chemicals in stomach to form nitrosamine, the HACSG* recommends to avoid it
E251
Sodium nitrate
also used in the manufacture of nitric acid, as a fertiliser and in fermented meat products (see 250)
E252#
Potassium nitrate
may be derived from waste animal or vegetable matter; used in gunpowder, explosives and fertilisers, and in the preservation of meat; may provoke hyperactivity and other adverse reactions; potentially carcinogenic; restricted in many countries (see 249)
E260
Acetic acid
main component of vinegar, synthetically produced from wood fibres; used in pickles, chutneys, and sauces
E261
Potassium acetate
food acid; should be avoided by people with impaired kidney function; typical products are sauces, pickles
E262
Sodium acetate, Sodium diacetate
food acid, acidity regulator; no known adverse effects
E263
Calcium acetate
food acid, acidity regulator; by product in the manufacture of wood alcohol; used to make acetic acid (vinegar) and in the production of dyers mordants
E264
Ammonium acetate
can cause nausea and vomiting
E270#
Lactic acid
food acid, acidity regulator; produced by heating and fermenting carbohydrates in milk whey, potatoes, cornstarch or molasses; difficult for babies to metabolise; used in sweets, dressings, soft drinks (sometimes beer) infant formulas and confectionary
E280
Propionic acid
all propionates are thought to be linked with migraine headaches; propionates occur naturally in fermented foods, human perspiration and ruminants digestive tract, also can be derived commercially from ethylene and carbon monoxide or propionaldehyde or natural gas or fermented wood pulp; produced when bacteria decompose fibre; commonly used in bread and flour products;
E281
Sodium propionate
may be linked to migraines, typical products are flour products
E282
Calcium propionate
see 281
E283
Potassium propionate
see 281
E290
Carbon dioxide
propellant, coolant, derived from lime manufacture; may increase the effect of alcohol; typical products are wine, soft drinks, confectionary
E296
Malic acid
derived from fruit or synthetic; infants and young children should avoid it
E297
Fumaric acid
derived from plants of the genus Fumaria esp. F.officianalis or from the fermentation of glucose with fungi; can be used to flavour, acidify, as an antioxidant or raising agent used in soft drinks and cake mixes


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