Last Updated : Mar 28,2020
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Sodium benzoate (E211) has the chemical formula NaC6H5CO2. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and exists in this form when dissolved in water. It can be produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid.Sodium benzoate is a type of salt that may occur naturally in some foods but is more likely to be chemically produced and added as a preservative to foods. When used as a preservative, sodium benzoate is typically added to foods in small amounts only. If too much is added, food may take on a very bitter taste. it works very well at killing bacteria, yeast and fungi.
You will most commonly see it used as a preservative in foods with a high acid content, since sodium benzoate will only work when the pH balance of foods is less than 3.6. Sodium benzoate naturally occurs in several fruits like apples, plums and cranberries. A few sweet spices contain small amounts of sodium benzoate, including cloves and cinnamon. The presence of sodium benzoate in these foods however does not necessarily act to preserve them. Some call it bitter or salty while others think the taste is more on the sweet side. Since many of us drink soft drinks on a regular basis, we are fairly used to tasting this preservative and generally think nothing of it.
How to select
Check the expiry date and food grade mark on the pack of sodium benzoate.It is available in the form of crystals or white powder.
" It is effective in most sodas, vinegar, fruit juice, and in mixed ingredients like salad dressing.
" It is additionally used to stop the fermentation process in wines.
" It is used most prevalently in acidic foods such as carbonated drinks (carbonic acid), jams and fruit juices (citric acid), pickles, and condiments.
How to store
Store sodium benzoate powder in an airtight container.
" There have been some health concerns about the combination of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid or vitamin C. When the two are mixed, they can form chemical benzene, which is carcinogenic. However, sodium benzoate on its own is not considered a carcinogen and you would have to consume a huge amount of it in order to have toxic levels in your body.
" Sodium benzoate is a preservative. It is bacteriostatic and fungistatic under acidic conditions.
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