What is Sorbic Acid E200 in Food? Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is Sorbic Acid E200 in Food? Uses, Safety, Side Effects


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Sorbic Acid, more commonly known as E 200, is a p-hydroxybenzoic acid. Sorbic acid is produced in many different ways, but the most common forms are created by chemical hydrolysis and fermentation. Its primary use is as a food preservative and antimicrobial agent.

Sorbic acid belongs to the group of aromatic carboxylic acids, which are natural occurring compounds. It is a white fine crystalline powder with some bitter taste and mild odour. Sorbic acid can be found in some plants and fruits such as apples, blueberries, plums and potatoes. Common foods that may contain sorbic acid include:

What is sorbic acid in food?

Sorbic acid is an organic compound that is used as a food preservative. It’s also known as 2,4-hexadecenoic acid or 2,4-hexanedioic acid.

Sorbic acid has been used as a preservative in food since the 1960s. It’s found naturally in many foods, including berries, citrus fruits, and apples.

Sorbic acid is produced by fermentation of glucose or sucrose and is used as an antioxidant to preserve foods and beverages, especially those that are acidic, such as pickles, jams, jellies, fruit juices, and wine. It can also be found in baked goods, candy, and pasta.

What is sorbic acid used for?

Sorbic acid is a preservative that can be used in many different applications. It is commonly used in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Sorbic acid is a fatty acid that is produced by the fermentation of glucose. The main use of sorbic acid is as a food preservative. It has been used since ancient times to preserve foods, such as wine and cheese. Today it is still used in these applications and also in many others, such as baked goods, meat products, and fruit juices.

Sorbic acid is also used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause acne or other skin infections when applied to the skin after shaving or using cleansers or other topical treatments.

What is sorbic acid made from?

Sorbic acid is used as a preservative in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals. It is also used to kill bacteria on contact.

Sorbic acid is made by fermenting glucose or sucrose with the fungus Aspergillus niger. The fungus converts the sugar into sorbic acid, which can then be isolated from the media in which it was grown.

How is sorbic acid made?

Sorbitol is alcohol that forms naturally in fruit juices and honey. It also can be produced commercially by adding an enzyme called glucaric acid to carbohydrates such as corn syrup or glucose syrups. The resulting mixture is then treated with heat, which breaks down the sugars into smaller units called monosaccharides and converts them into sorbitol.

The process for making sorbic acid from sorbitol requires adding another enzyme called invertase to convert the remaining disaccharide into two monosaccharides, glucose, and fructose. 

The remaining fructose creates a third enzyme reaction known as hydrolysis, which converts it into fructose and glucose monomers (simple sugars). These monosaccharides are then processed through several other steps until they become sorbic acid crystals.

How does sorbic acid work as a preservative?

The mechanism of bacteriostatic or bactericidal action of sorbic acid is the same as that of potassium sorbate. As potassium sorbate is added to water, it dissociates into sorbic acid and potassium ions. Sorbic acid acts as an antimicrobial preservative.

As with benzoic acid, sorbic acid is a weak acid soluble in lipids that:

  • Enters the microbial cell through its membrane
  • After accumulating, it influences the internal PH of bacteria
  • Transport functions and metabolic activity are eventually disrupted
  • Result in microbial death


Other names
  • 2,4-Hexadienoic Acid
  • 2-propenylacrylic acid
Chemical formula C6H8O2
CAS No. 110-44-1
Molecular weight 112.128
Boiling point 270 °C


It is a colorless powder or needles with a faint, characteristic odor.




In water

It is slightly soluble in water (solubility 0.16 g/100 mL at 20 °C), so it should not be used in foods containing a large amount of water. Commonly, it is made into potassium sorbate salts, which are commonly used.

In organic solvent

Insoluble in alcohol, ether, propylene glycol, peanut oil, glycerin, and glacial acetic acid.


Sorbic acid generates its antimicrobial activity when it is in the form of a molecule, undissociated.

Its PKa is 4.76. That is to say that its inhibitory activity grows as pH value (below 4.76) decreases and as the proportion of undissociated sorbic acid increases, leading to its increased antimicrobial activity.

Antimicrobial activity is optimal between pH 3.0 and 6.5.

What’s the application of sorbic acid?

In food applications, sorbic acid and potassium sorbate have become the primary preservatives due to their antimicrobial activity, effectiveness in weak acid pH ranges, and benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are safer alternatives.

Food is usually protected from yeast and mold spoilage with a usage range of 0.025% to 0.10%.


By inhibiting yeast, mold, and some bacteria from spoiling food, sorbic acid can prolong its shelf life. In food with low water content, it can be used to preserve the following foods:

  • It’s cheese!
  • Fruits dried
  • yogurts
  • Foods for pets
  • Meats dried out
  • A baked good.

The potassium sorbate is preferred for preservation in liquid form or aqueous systems.

How to use it?

There are several ways to add sorbic acid to food:

  • Directly applied
  • Dusted with powder
  • Spraying on food surfaces
  • Dip into sorbate solutions to prepare certain concentrations
  • Materials for packaging


Additionally, sorbic acid can inhibit the growth of yeast and mold in cosmetics and personal care products.

Is sorbic acid safe?

Sorbic acid is an organic compound that is used as a food preservative. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and in the leather industry. It is usually made from glucose or sucrose and has a white, crystalline appearance.

Sorbic acid is used as a preservative in foods, including meats, cheeses, jams and other spreads. It prevents mold growth and extends the shelf life of these products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved sorbic acid for use in foods at levels up to 0.2 percent by weight.


It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a chemical preservative for human consumption in accordance with good manufacturing practices.

Uses limit

These foods are authorized to use it

  • Cheese and cheese products < 0.2%
  • Products containing potassium or sodium sorbate in combination with cheeses and cheese-related products < 0.3%
  • Jellies, jams, and preserves made with art sw fruit < 0.1%
  • Orange juice concentrate < 0.2%
  • Combined with other preservatives, margarine can be preserved at 0.1% or 0.2%


Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 categorizes sorbic acid (E200) as an authorised food additive.

Approved uses

In the case of potassium sorbate, the maximum dosage ranges between 20 and 6,000 mg/kg

UK Food Standards Agency

The item is categorized as “Others”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have approved it as an ingredient with code number 200.


Classification: food additives, preservatives.

The ADI was 25 mg per kilogram body weight in 1973.

Sorbic acid vs Potassium sorbate

Sorbic acid and potassium sorbate are both used as preservatives for food and cosmetics. They are commonly found in packaged, processed, and canned foods.

Sorbic acid is a natural acid found in berries and many other fruits. It is used to prevent mold growth in foods, especially those with a high water content. Food companies use it in their products because it is very effective at preventing the growth of harmful bacteria while also being non-toxic to humans at the levels used (up to 0.3%).

Potassium sorbate is a salt that contains potassium cations and sorbate anions. This preservative can be used as an alternative to sodium benzoate or calcium propionate when there are concerns about sensitivity to sodium or calcium compounds. The potassium ions help stabilize the product against microbial contamination by inhibiting the growth of yeast and molds.

What are the side effects of sorbic acid?

Even though sorbic acid has been approved safe by the FDA and EFSA, it may have some mild side effects, such as allergies, scalp irritations, or diarrhea. There is almost no toxicity and no cancer risk associated with it.

The most common side effects of sorbic acid are:

Skin irritation. Sorbic acid can cause skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. The irritation may be severe enough to cause blisters and burns. If you develop any skin problems, stop using sorbic acid and call your doctor immediately.

Allergic reaction. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to sorbic acid, including a rash and hives (itching). If you have these symptoms while using this product, stop using it and call your doctor immediately.

Other possible side effects include:

Nausea or vomiting



Where to buy sorbic acid?

You can buy sorbic acid online, but you may have to do a little digging. It’s not as common as the other preservatives we’ve discussed here.

It’s available from many large suppliers such as Sigma-Aldrich and Fisher Scientific, though their prices can be rather high. If you’re looking for smaller quantities, you might try searching for “sorbic acid food grade” on eBay or Amazon.

If you want to buy some sorbic acid in powdered form, then you can consider purchasing from Grade Chemical,  For Grade Chemical is one reliable sorbic acid supplier in China. they can supply you with a much more competitive price than the local market price.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sorbic acid Natural or Synthetic?

Sorbic acid is a natural acid that can be extracted from berries. However, the most commonly used sorbic acid is synthetic and created in a lab.

Is sorbic acid Vegan?

yes, sorbic acid is vegan. Sorbic acid is derived from vitamin C (ascorbic acid), so it’s not considered an animal product—and it’s certainly not something you need to worry about if you’re following a vegan diet.

Yes, sorbic acid is a preservative.

Sorbic acid is a natural antioxidant that helps prevent food from spoiling and also extends the shelf life of certain foods. It has been used for many years in foods and beverages to help prevent them from going bad. Sorbic acid is often used in combination with other food additives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is a natural antioxidant that is commonly used as a food additive. While it is safe in small doses and has some benefits, too much can be harmful.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps the body fight off free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that cause damage to cells and DNA by removing electrons from other molecules. They can cause diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron better.

Sorbic acid vs Ascorbic acid?

Sorbic acid and ascorbic acid are both used as preservatives in food products. They’re both derived from glucose and share the same chemical formula (C6H8O6), but they differ in their molecular structure and the way they react with other substances.


Overall, sorbic acid (E200) is approved for a variety of uses in food. Its low toxicity and desirable properties make it an important preservative in many foods and beverages. Sorbic acid (E200) can be used on most types of fresh and processed foods and should not be harmful if you consume it as part of a balanced diet.

If you have questions about ingredients on food labels, please contact us in the below comments.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

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