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Is Potassium Sorbate Bad for You?

Is the preservative used to prevent mold growth in foods such as cheese, yogurt, wine, dried meat, pickles, apple cider, and many herbal dietary supplements harmful for humans?

October 18, 2011 |
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Transcript

Previously we’ve looked at the safety of the preservative sodium benzoate. What about potassium sorbate, commonly used to prevent mold growth in cheese, yogurt, wine, dried meat, pickles, apple cider, and many herbal dietary supplements? Harmful, harmless, or helpful?

Well, it’s been found harmless to Syrian hamsters, but toxic to Chinese hamsters. Then they discovered it’s actually harmless to Chinese hamster ovary cells, just toxic to Chinese hamster lung cells—but harmless to mouse lung cells. Now rats are a whole 'nother story, but what about human cells. Took us until 2010 but let’s find out: Does potassium sorbate induce genotoxic or mutagenic effects in lymphocytes—human lymphocytes, white blood cells. The paper concludes “Based on our results, consumers should be made aware that potassium sorbate should be considered a genotoxic and mutagenic compound.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Peter Mellor.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on preservatives. And don't forget, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, please refer to the following associated blog post: Should We Avoid Titanium Dioxide?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on preservatives. And don’t forget, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/christopher/ Christopher

    Amazing site!I was diagnosed with R.A. over four years ago,methotrexate,sulfasalisine,plaquenol,enbrel,were some of my meds.I have been a vegan since Jan./11.My blood work shows none of the bio markers for the disease,I have no symptoms of R.A.My rheumatologists told me there was no cure,just lifelong medication. My own research on R.A. led me to a plant based diet with Zero animal products.I am now the healthiest I have ever been in my life.Thank you for this site it is an excellent source of nutritional information.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Awesome! I love hearing about healing through a plant based diet. Its amazing how effective your body becomes once you give it the right stuff to work with!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/StephenKelly/ Stephen Kelly

    Would you recommend this supplement then? http://www.b12vegan.com/

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/StephenKelly/ Stephen Kelly

    Would you recommend this supplement then? http://www.b12vegan.com/

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wickedchicken/ wickedchicken

    Just on the last sentence you said…you forgot “in vitro” ..but not yet in vivo. Very NB!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=872945331 Isaac Chayo

    thanks for sharing! excellent post. 

  • http://twitter.com/ToxicBeautyBlog Robin Adler

    Hi Dr. Greger, What is your take on potassium sorbate used as a cosmetic
    preservative? Would it also be considered toxic? Was the study
    primarily done on potassium sorbate ingested through food? It would
    worry me a bit more in a cosmetic product since the skin absorbs what is
    put on it and it bypasses the liver. Thanks!

  • Deb

    Yipes I’m scared!  I just had blood work that shows that my potassium level is off-the-charts high!
    1) What would you suggest diet-wise and 2) If all vegans and vegetarians don’t have this problem, what would be occurring in my body that would cause this?  THANKS!

    • Toxins

      The concern of getting in too much of any one nutrient from a whole
      foods plant based diet is really unfounded and virtually impossible.
      Rare exceptions include too much selenium from eating too many brazil
      nuts and of course, too much saturated fat from foods like coconut and
      the tropical oils.

      However, there are several medical conditions, such as kidney disease, where potassium may have to be limited and in those cases

      • Guest

        I had 2 kidneys failures from gentamicin and was on 20meq everyday for about 2 weeks and im still to this day having low B12 But it comes from A.L.L However im only taking B12, Multi vit/min and “K” Things are looking good. I needed 3 years of chemo only did about 6-7 months and i am 12 months in remission Wooo

      • Frasier

        The concern of “too much saturated fat” is really unfounded.

        • Toxins

          The national Academy of Science, a very reputable organization who has collected years of research over the topic to come to the conclusion is makes, disagrees.

          “Saturated fatty acids are synthesized by the body to provide an adequate level needed for their physiological and structural functions: they have no known role in preventing chronic diseases. Therefore, neither and AI nor RDA is set for saturated fatty acids. There is a positive linear trend between total saturated fatty acid intake and total low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A UL is not set for saturated fatty acids because any incremental increase in saturated fatty acids increased CHD risk.”

          http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=422

          • gloria

            Hi, I am not sure if I fully understand your answer. My daughter and I take a spoonful or two of coconut oil in our morning smoothies. I know coconut oil has saturated fats but I remember reading it was GOOD ones…whatever that entailed. Is that bad? Could you please clarify?

          • Toxins

            Although 60% of the saturated fat are medium chain fatty acids, the ones that are supposedly neutral, 30% of the total saturated fat is indeed long chain saturated fat and is more harmful to health. It would be best to consume the whole food, as coconut oil is quite barren in nutrients.

            http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/508/2

  • Caeric7

    I am actually allergic to Potassium Sorbate, it causes me to have trouble breathing.

  • sharon

    is Potassium sorbate harmful to patients on dialysis?

  • MAYDAY

    WHAT A SHAME YOU GIVE NO POSSIBILITY OF SENDING THIS IN EMAIL FORM! I HAVE MANY FRIENDS INTERESTED IN THIS SITE BUT I AM MOST DEFINITELY NOT INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED IN ANY SOCIAL NETWORKS. PLEASE GIVE THE POSSIBILITY OF EMAILING THESE DETAILS

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Just click on the orange share button below the video and then click the email icon (little envelope).

  • Joel Roberts

    BUT IT”S IN SRIRACHA. I CAN”T EAT ANYTHING WITHOUT SRIRACHA. WHAT DO I DO DR.?!

    • Amor Rays

      I know I’m late responding but I just read recently that the creator of sriracha is willing to give out his formula. He says it’s better if you make it fresh yourself anyway.

  • Bird

    Someone noted in the comments that potassium sorbate should be limited in kidney disease, but I didn’t see a doctor’s response. I have Chronic Kidney Disease (not on dialysis) and I am supposed to avoid foods with a lot of potassium.

    When I read labels, for instance this morning on a jelly label, I find that it has “less than 2%” of potassium sorbate. Is this in the same family as potassium? Is there enough postassium sorbate when used as a preservative to add significantly to potassium load?

  • adawe

    what about gut microflora

  • Berliner2442

    Would it be harmful to use Potassium Sorbate in Cosmetic?

  • Kman

    I just ate some dried fruit and when buying I noticed Potassium Sorbate in every type of dried fruit I looked at. I have to raise my eyebrow at the leaving out of dried fruit from the list.

  • Jack Naughton

    Is Potassium Sorbate Bad for You?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Tyiler Tyler Hart

      yes

      • Jonathan Karas

        i don’t think it’s that black and white, tyler.

  • Grammaof3

    My 2 1/2 year old grandson has been drinking propel zero water. I am concerned about him consuming some of the additives as well as the preservatives in this product. I would like to know your thoughts.

  • Tyler Lehman

    I had 2 kidneys failures from gentamicin and was on 20meq everyday for about 2 weeks and im still to this day having low B12 But it comes from A.L.L However im only taking B12, Multi vit/min and “K” Things are looking good. I needed 3 years of chemo only did about 6-7 months and i am 12 months in remission Woooo

  • Martha Taylor

    I am a liver transplant person as of 5/13/13. Lately my potassiym has gone from 5.4 to 6.2, a very dangerous place to be from.what my doctor tells me. I’ve been told no potassium, but I see in numerous foods potassium sorbate, is this also a no-no as I like Mrs. Butterworth syrup if I eat it once a week? Thank you, Martha Taylor

  • Bea

    My friend had some liposomal gluthione for a few days and his intestines got all irritated after that, thus severely limiting his already limited foods he can eat without harming his sensitive gut. It also seems to be irritating my gut after taking the same liposomal glutathione for a couple of weeks. I noticed today that it has potassium sorbate as a preservative. Neither of us eats preserved foods and make everything else as much as possible from scratch, so this is our only exposure to the potassium sorbate. So thank you for posting the information that potassium sorbate is a genotoxic and mutagenic compound for humans. It helps simplify what is going on with him–and me. I will have to listen to the video again however to catch who did the research. It would be nice to be able to better source it. Thanks however for finally letting the public begin to glean what is going on with possible side effects from potassium sorbate.

  • concerned

    potassium sorbate has been put into a vit c liposomal product can it attach itself to the liposomes.

  • Sandra

    My son is on diaylsis and is on a low potassium diet is drinks with potassium sorbate good for .

  • dan

    so is it bad or not?

    • sedeka

      Yes it is.

  • Terey

    I experience extreme stomach pain and cramping after drinking wines containing sulfites and some foods that are preserved with sulfites, I try to stay away from those foods, but every once in a while I encounter the same symptoms after eating other foods. Yesterday, I had some jelly that contained Potassium Sorbate, and experienced the same symptoms. Is there anything that I can take to help me overcome these symptoms once they start occurring? I recently traveled to Africa, and found a vast majority of their bottled waters contain sulfites.

  • Dianne

    Dear Dr. Greger:
    I am seeing ads for soaking in epsom salts as a better way to absorb needed magnexium, instead of diet or supplements. While magneium is absorbed through the skin, how would a person ever figure out how much he/she is getting? Have you sen any research in this area?

  • Terry

    Potassium Sorbate. Is this one of those products that can cause damage if you use say 2000# a day? Many products as you know are virtually harmless at very small doses.

    • Jay M

      Click on “Sources Sites” (a few lines below the video) for links to studies used to draw conclusions.