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Potassium Sorbate

EWG Risk Score:


What is it?

Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid and is used as a preservative in cosmetic items as well as food. 

What are its risks:

  • Potassium sorbate can cause allergic reaction in repeated high amounts or in certain individuals. (Source)
  • Can be a skin or eye irritant when used in high concentrations.
  • Found to be genotoxic to human lymphocytes. In other words, it has been found to alter or destroy the DNA within human white blood cells. (Source)
  • Derived from petroleum (Source) This itself doesn't make it harmful, unless there are impurities that are not filtered out in processing (polyaromatic hydrocarbons.) 

Steph's Opinion: 

Potassium sorbate has longbeen considered one of the "safer" options when it comes to preservatives, with the biggest risk it was thought to carry being potential for allergy. However, with new information shedding light on its genotoxicity, it is now on my "avoid" list.  

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Reader Comments (4)

Hello Stephanie, I noticed that a company called Best Health Nutritionals began putting crospovidone in a product I get from them called Sleep Dissolves. I became concerned when I noticed that this new ingredient had been added to the formula. Can you tell me a little about it? I didn't like what I read, but I thought I would check with you.

Fri, January 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlana

@Alana--interesting. Don't know a whole lot about crospovidon--will have to do some research. However, I found this to be interesting:

Tue, February 3, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Hello, nice blog. Love the fact that it's so "sciencey" 😀. As a biologist & chemist this gives me SMILES for miles. I have one question to ask, are you basing your speculations on one scientific journal about potassium sorbate having being found to be genotoxic to human lymphocytes? Shouldn't more than one experiment and report be conducted to conclude this as a basis theory?

Fri, July 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSashie

Hi Stephanie,
Thank you, so much, for all the information you share on your website!
Is sorbic acid as bad as potassium sorbate?

Sun, February 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCD

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