Choosing the right preservative just might be the most important decision a Food Technologist makes during the development process. The three most common preservatives are sorbates, propionates and benzoates. Choosing from these three alternatives is highly dependant on the pH of your product. In general, the effective upper pH limit is about 6.5 for sorbates, 5.5 for propionates and 4.5 for benzoates. When used at common pH levels of mildly acidic foods (pH 5.5 – 6.0), sorbates are the more effective preservative against a wider spectrum of food spoilage microorganisms than benzoates or propionates.
Sorbates’ effectiveness increases with greater acidity. Above pH 4.0, sorbates are more effective than sodium benzoate or sodium/calcium propionate. At pH 2.5 – 3.0, sorbates are still somewhat more effective than sodium benzoate as a yeast and mold inhibitor, and more than twice as potent as propionates.
Sorbates are at their optimum effectiveness when used below pH 6.0. However they function up to pH 6.5, but are relatively ineffective at pH 7.0 and above.
Properties of Potassium Sorbate
- Antimicrobial/antibacterial – effective against yeast, molds and bacteria
- Effective across a broad pH range
- Highly soluble
- Safe, odorless, flavorless
- Granular, FCC, Kosher, Non-GMO
- Liquid fruit products
- Meat products
- Baking mixes
- Liquid vitamins
- Pet food
- Wax wrappings/coating