What is Potassium Sorbate?

Potassium sorbate is a common food preservative.


Potassium sorbate is a white crystalline powder. It is a potassium salt version of sorbic acid.

Sorbic acid is a naturally occurring polyunsaturated fat that has antimicrobial properties.  That means that it helps to prevent the growth of molds, yeasts, and fungus.  It was originally discovered in the 1850’s, and was derived from the Mountain Ash Tree.  Today, potassium sorbate is synthetically created.1

Common Uses:

Potassium sorbate is one of the most common food preservatives.  It is used to slow the growth of molds and yeasts in foods.  It is commonly found in margarine, wines, cheeses, yogurts, soft drinks, and baked goods.  It makes a good preservative because it does not have any taste or after taste.

picture of ingredient list containing potassium sorbate
Potassium Sorbate

Potassium Sorbate in Wine:

When brewing wine, yeast is used to convert sugar to alcohol.  This process is called fermentation.  When the wine reaches the desired flavour and body, you want to stop the yeast from growing.  Potassium sorbate is added to inhibit yeast growth.

Side Effects / Health Issues:

Potassium sorbate has been used has a food preservative for many years.  There have been extensive long-term tests that have confirmed its safety and it is on the Center for Science in the Public Interest list of safe additives.3

However, many people have reportedly suffered from allergic reactions to potassium sorbate and other food preservatives.2

E Number:

Potassium sorbate has an E number of 202.

Other food preservatives have E numbers in the range 200 to 299.  This includes preservatives such as sodium benzoate (211), formic acid (236), and sodium nitrite (250).

Personal Notes:

Potassium sorbate is everywhere.  If you’re going to eat processed foods, this additive is almost impossible to avoid.

If you want to avoid these kinds of chemicals, buy and cook your own fresh unprocessed food.  Based solely on my own instincts, this is my preferred approach.

Do you have questions or comments about this post? 

Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  Thanks.



[1] USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

[2] Wikipedia

[3] Center for Science in the Public Interest

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7 Comments on “Potassium sorbate

    • I’m afraid I don’t know. Are you making your own herbal medicine? Did you want to add the potassium sorbate as a preservative?

  1. Hi there,
    I am about to start a donut shop and I need to increase the shelf life of my donuts. I live in the middle east and the weather gets very hot in summers so Potassium Sorbate is necessary. Now I have a question if you could kindly provide me with an answer. When I prepare the dough I use yeast so what happens when I use Potassium Sorbate and yeast together. Is the yeast not going to do its job of fermenting the dough?

    Thanks in advance

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