Preservatives approved for use in food by the European Commission

Food additives permitted in the EU: preservatives

Preservatives are food additives used to maintain the quality of the food, slowing decomposition caused by bacteria, yeast, mould or air, and to help control contaminations that may cause foodborne illness.
Below is a review of some of preservatives present in the list of food additives approved in the European Community on the basis of the European Commission regulation No 1129/2011 published on 11 November 2011. Such list is an amendment of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 of the European Parliament, that was then modified in 2013. It is possible to consult the list in its entirety, in the different European languages and both in PDF and HTML format, by following the link in the References.

Preservatives: sorbic acid and its salts
E200 Sorbic acid
E202 Potassium sorbate
E203 Calcium sorbate
Preservatives: benzoic acid and its salts
E210 Benzoic acid
E211 Sodium benzoate
E212 Potassium benzoate
E213 Calcium benzoate
E214 Ethyl p-hydroxyhenzoate
E215 Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
E218 Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
E219 Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
Preservatives: sulphur dioxide and its salts
E220 Sulphur dioxide
E221 Sodium sulphite
E222 Sodium hydrogen sulphite
E223 Sodium metabisulphite
E224 Potassium metabisulphite
E226 Calcium sulphite
E227 Calcium hydrogen sulphite
E228 Potassium hydrogen sulphite
Other preservatives
E234 Nisin
E235 Natamycin or NATA, for surface treatment of cheeses and dried cured sausages
E239 Hexamethylene tetramine or hexamine
E242 Dimethyl dicarbonate
Preservatives: pickling salts
E249 Potassium nitrite
E250 Sodium nitrite
E251 Sodium nitrate
E252 Potassium nitrate or saltpetre
Acids and their salts
E280 Propionic acid
E281 Sodium propionate
E282 Calcium propionate
E283 Potassium propionate
E284 Boric acid
E285 Sodium tetraborate or borax
  1. Bender D.A. “Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology” 8th ed. Woodhead Publishing. Oxford, 2006
  2. Commission Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011 of 11 November 2011 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union list of food additives.

Biochemistry, metabolism, and nutrition