Benzoic Acid Benzoates

Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate were the first antimicrobial compounds permitted in foods by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Benzoic acid occurs naturally in cranberries, plums, prunes, apples, strawberries, cinnamon, cloves, and most berries. The undissociated form of benzoic acid (pKa = 4.19) is the most effective antimicrobial agent; therefore, the most effective pH range is 2.5 to 4.5.

Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are used primarily as antifungal agents. The inhibitory concentration of benzoic acid at pH less than 5.0 against most yeasts ranges from 20 to 700 /¿g/ml, whereas for molds it is 20 to 2000 //g/mL (11,17). Fungi including Byssochlamys nivea, Pi-chia membranaefaciens, Talaromyces flavus, and Zygosac-charomyces bailii are resistant to benzoic acid (18). While bacteria associated with food poisoning including Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus are inhibited by 1000 to 2000 /i g/ml undissociated acid, the control of many spoilage bacteria requires much higher concentrations (11). Benzoic acid at 0.1% is effective in reducing viable E. coli 0157:H7 in apple cider (pH 3.6-4.0) by 3 to 5 logs in seven days at 8°C (19).

Sodium benzoate is used as an antimicrobial at up to 0.1% in carbonated and still beverages, syrups, cider, margarine, olives, pickles, relishes, soy sauce, jams, jellies, preserves, pie and pastry fillings, fruit salads, and salad dressings and in the storage of vegetables (17).

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