Potassium Benzoate

Potassium Benzoate, is a preservative that is used to keep beverages fresh and safe. It protects against yeasts, moulds, and certain types of bacteria. It is currently approved for use in Canada, the USA, the EU, Austalia, and New Zealand.

Potassium Benzoate is used as an alternative to Sodium Benzoate, often in cases where a lower sodium content is required.


The chemical formula of Potassium Benzoate is C7H5KO2. In its raw form, it looks like a white crystalline powder. However, some companies will supply a liquid form for use in the food industry.

Common Uses

Potassium Benzoate is commonly used in soft drinks. One example is Pepsi’s Tropicana Twister Soda.

Other uses of Potassium Benzoate may include salted margarine, olives, sauces and relishes, jams and jellies, pastry and pie fillings, and low fat salad dressings.

One interesting, use of Potassium Benzoate is in fireworks. It is used to create the “whistle” sound.

Health Issues / Side Effects

When exposed to heat and light, some products that contain both potassium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may produce benzene.1 This is a concern because benzene is a known carcinogen. It causes cancer in humans.

There have also been reports that a small percentage of people may have allergic reactions and/or find that their symptoms become worse after eating foods containing benzoic acid. This may be particularly true if the foods also contain tartrazine (E102).2,3

E Number

The E number Potassium Benzoate is 212.

Other benzoates include calcium benzoate (E 213), sodium benzoate (E 211), and benzoic acid (E 210).


If you’re concerned about consuming sodium benzoate, be sure to check the ingredient lists of the products you buy. There are many products that do not use it.


  1. FDA Questions and Answers Regarding Benzene in Soft Drinks
  2. US National Library of Medicine
  3. UK Food Guide


If you want to read more, try the following links…

  1. Fireworks ingredients
  2. Potassium Benzoate Supplier – FBC Industries Inc.

Canadian Food Additive Dictionary
FDA Food Additive Status List
UK Foods Standards Agency, Approved Food Additives
Food Standards – Australia and New Zealand

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