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Preservative: Definition and Various Categories of Preservatives

BY: Yoshi | Category: Education | Post Date: 2009-09-27

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Definition of Preservatives:
A preservative is a natural or synthetic chemical that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples, etc. to prevent decomposition by microbial growth or by undesirable chemical changes. It may be antimicrobial preservatives, which inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, or antioxidants such as oxygen absorbers, which inhibit the oxidation of food constituents.

Common antimicrobial preservatives include calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sulfites (sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfite, potassium hydrogen sulfite, etc.) and disodium EDTA. Antioxidants include BHA and BHT. Other preservatives include formaldehyde (usually in solution), glutaraldehyde (kills insects), ethanol and methylchloroisothiazolinone.

Some preservatives, such as acetic acid and citric acid are permitted according to good manufacturing practice. Other preservatives, like sulfurous acid and sulfites can cause serious problems in some asthmatic individuals and regulations permit their use only in low levels. Nitrite and nitrate salts have been determined to be cancer-causing agents and only minimal levels are permitted.

Artificial preservatives are a group of chemical substances added to food, sprayed on the outside of food, or added to certain medications to retard spoilage, discoloration, or contamination by bacteria and other disease organisms.

Preservatives may also be added to wood to prevent the growth of fungi as well as to repel insects and termites. Typically arsenic, copper, chromium, borate, and petroleum based chemical compounds are used.

Categories of preservatives:

1. Class I
Acetic Acid
Ascorbic Acid
Calcium Ascorbate
Erythorbic Acid
IsoAscorbic Acid
Potassium Nitrate
Sodium Ascorbate
Sodium Erythorbate
Sodium IsoAscorbate
Sodium Nitrate
Sodium Nitrite
Wood Smoke

2. Class II
Benzoic Acid
Calcium Sorbate
Methyl-r hydroxyBenzoate
Methyl Paraben
Potassium Benzoate
Potassium Bisulphite
Potassium Metabi-sulphite
Potassium Sorbate
Propyl-r-hydroxy Benzoate
Propyl Paraben
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Bisulphite
Sodium Metabisulphite
Sodium Salt of Methyl-r-hydroxy Benzoic Acid
Sodium Salt of Propyl-r-hydroxy Benzoic Acid
Sodium Sorbate
Sodium Sulphite
Sodium Dithionite
Sorbic Acid
Sulphurous Acid

3. Class III
Calcium Propionate
Calcium Sorbate
Potassium Sorbate
Propionic Acid
Sodium Diacetate
Sodium Propionate
Sodium Sorbate
Sorbic Acid

4. Class IV
Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbyl Palmitate
Ascorbyl Stearate
Butylated Hydroxyanisole
Butylated Hydroxytoluene
Citric Acid
L-Cysteine Hydrochloride
Gum Guaiacum
Lecithin citrate
Monoglyceride Citrate
Monoisopropyl Citrate
Propyl 1 Gallate
Tartaric Acid
Tertiary Butyl Hydroquinone

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