Sorbic Acid vs Potassium Sorbate

Sorbic Acid vs Potassium Sorbate

By on Jun 4th 2018

Sorbic acid and potassium sorbate both work as chemical additives in numerous products used daily. Sorbic acid occurs naturally, while potassium sorbate is synthetically produced from sorbic acid and potassium hydroxide. Each substance preserves food effectively, but work in slightly different ways.

Sorbic Acid

Sorbic acid is derived from rowan, or mountain ash, tree berries. It inhibits yeast and mold growth and is utilized in both food and skin products. When used in food, it helps keep the food fresh long enough to be distributed and stored throughout the world.

The United States Food and Drug Administration considers sorbic acid to be safe for regular use. As an antimicrobial agent, it is used as a preservative in food and drinks. The salts in sorbic acid are usually preferred over sorbic acid itself when it comes to food and beverage applications because they are more soluble in water. Sorbic acid salts are sodium sorbate, calcium sorbate, and potassium sorbate.

Food and beverages containing sorbic acid:

Cheese Dried fruit Meat
Beer Jelly Fish Cheese
Bread Soft drinks Soups Pastries

Potassium Sorbate

Potassium Sorbate is also popularly used throughout the world in foods, drinks, and personal care products for over 50 years. The substance is synthetically made from sorbic acid and potassium hydroxide. It works by stopping mold, yeast, and fungi from growing. It prevents fermentation from occurring longer than required in beverages like sweet or semi-sweet wine. The fermentation process is stopped by preventing bacteria from dividing into new yeast cells.

As mentioned before, potassium sorbate is one of the salts found in sorbic acid. Both the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have determined potassium sorbate “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS). The salt preserves food without changing the quality, taste, smell, texture, or appearance. It also does not accumulate in the body and passes through the system harmlessly. 

Food and beverages containing potassium sorbate:

Apple cider Ice cream Yogurt Dried fruit
Dried meats Pickles Pastries Canned fruit
Wine Soft drinks Baked goods Juice


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