Benzoic Acid

Benzoic acid also has widespread use in the food industry. It occurs naturally in raspberries, cranberries, plums prunes, cinnamon, and cloves (Doors 1993). As an antifungal food additives, the water-soluble sodium and potassium salts and the fat-soluble acid form are suitable for food and beverages with a pH below 4.5. Benzoates have little effect at neutral pH values. They are not as effective as sorbates at pH 5.0 (Table 2), but their effectiveness increases at lower pH values.

Table 2 Minimum concentration (%) of preservative required for inhibition of mold growth at pH 5.0

Compound

Species

A. soini

P. citrinum

A. niger

Benzoic acid

0.15

0.20

0.20

Propionic acid

0.06

0.08

0.08

Sorbic acid

0.02

0.08

0.08

Source: Liewen and Marth (1984).

Source: Liewen and Marth (1984).

Benzoic acid is active against yeasts and molds, including aflatoxin-forming microorganisms (Ray and Bullerman 1982). The acid form is often added to the fat phase and the sodium salt to the water phase of product such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, pickled vegetable, fruit products, and fruit drinks. Because benzoate can impart a fairly strong bitter off-flavor, it is frequently used in combination with sorbate. This mixture is often more effective in inhibiting yeast and molds than a comparable level of either preservative alone (Luck and Jager 1997). In addition, the mixture is less offensive organoleptically than benzoate alone.

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