Preservatives slow down or prevent the growth of bacteria, molds, and yeasts in food, avoiding its degradation or toxin development.
Today, consumers expect foods to be available all the year long, free from pathogens, and have a reasonably long shelf life. While some improvements have been made using packaging and processing systems to preserve foods without chemicals, today antimicrobial food preservatives still play a significant role in protecting the global food supply. Since none of the antimicrobials is able to preserve a product that is grossly contaminated, the basic hygienic rules during the production have to be respected in any case.
Food preservatives mostly belong to groups of sorbates, benzoates, and sulphites. In the dairy field, the preservatives mostly used are described here.
Organic Acids and Their Salts
- • Sorbic acid (and sorbates) is allowed in ripened and fresh cheese, presliced cheese, curdled milk, and dairy analogues.
- • Benzoic acid, residues were commonly found in some cheeses where benzoyl peroxide was used as bleaching agent. It is still used in animal rennet, in preparations of genetic chymosin, in fermented flavored milk. p-ossibenzoic acid and its derivatives are known in the pharmaceutical industry as parabens. Particular attention should be given when using benzoic acid in the presence of ascorbic acid, as it can form benzene.
- • EFSA panel concluded that a group ADI (acceptable daily intake) of 0 to 10 mg/kg body weight per day could now be established for methyl and ethyl parabens and their sodium salts. However, the panel considered that propyl paraben could not be included in this group ADI due to recent research demonstrating its effects on certain reproductive parameters in rats. Although the presence of propyl paraben in the diet is limited and unlikely to represent a risk to consumers, the panel was unable to recommend a specific ADI for propyl paraben based on current evidence.
- • Lactic acid
- • Acetic acid, usually used as acidifier
- • Propionic acids