Potassium Sorbate

Other names: Sorbic acid, potassium salt, sorbistat-K, sorbistat-potassium.

Potassium sorbate is a polyunsaturated fatty acid salt. It is the potassium salt of sorbic acid used to inhibit molds, yeast, fungi in many foods, including cheese, wine and baked goods.

Sorbic acid (E200) and its salts (potassium and calcium sorbate: E202 and E203) are allowed for use as preservatives in numerous processed foods. Sorbic acid and its salts are widely used in margarine in conjunction with antioxidants to prevent rancidity and mold and bacterial contamination. Sorbic acid is a preservative currently permitted in any natural cheese and one of the few preservatives permitted in processed cheese.

Sorbic acid and its salts are also used to prevent fungus growth in pies and pie fillings, bread, and brown-and-serve products. They are highly effective preservatives for pickles, mayonnaise, delicatessen salads, fruit pulps and juices, jams and jellies, dried fruit, soft drinks, syrups, beer, and wine, and confections.1

Extensive testing and feeding to test animals have indicated that sorbic acid is one of the least harmful antimicrobial preservatives, even at levels exceeding those normally used in foods.2 Potassium sorbate has the same antimycotic (prevent fungal growth) as sorbic acid and on an equivalent weight basis has 74 percent of the activity of sorbic acid. Thus, higher concentrations are required to obtain the same yeast- and mold-inhibiting effects (4 parts of potassium sorbate equal 3 parts of sorbic acid).


  1. CRC handbook of food additives, Volume 1. Thomas E. Furia
  2. Food additives. Alfred Larry Branen
  3. Dictionary of food ingredients. Robert S. Igoe, Yiu H. Hui