Baked goods like bread often contain artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life.

Artificial Preservatives


What are Artificial Preservatives?

Artificial preservatives are chemical additives that can slow down or restrict food deterioration that caused by microorganisms and oxidation reactions.1

So in the baking and food industry, they are used in baking extend to shelf-life and preserve quality characteristics during transport and commercialization.

Function

The thre main categories of artificial preservatives are:2

  1. Antimicrobials: restrict and inhibit the growth of spoilage organisms, such as mold and rope bacteria.
  2. Antioxidants: stabilize fats and oils, as well as delay their oxidation. Also, they prevent discoloration of natural pigments.
  3. Chelating agents (sequestrants): aid in binding metals that can cause oxidation in fats and oils.

Application

Category 1: Antimicrobials1,2,3

Relevant aspects / benefits Application Challenges
Benzoates (Potassium, calcium and sodium)

Active component: Benzoic acid

  • Benzoate salts in a solution are converted into the active form or acid.
  • Optimum pH range for microbial inhibition is 2.5–4.2.
  • Not recommended for pH above 4.2.
  • Also, not recommended in yeasted doughs.
  • Slightly effective against bacteria.
  • 0.03–0.1% in high acid fillings, fruits and jams.
  • 10% solution sprayed on the surface of baked products (cakes, muffins, pastries, bread).
  • Not compatible with clean label and natural products trends. (1)
  • Require acidic conditions to work effectively. High pH products such as Devil’s Food Cake (pH of 9.0) are not protected from mold. (2)
  • Significantly slows yeast activity and fermentation rate. (3)
Propionates (calcium – CalPro, and sodium)

Active component: Propionic acid

  • Propionate salts in solution are converted into the active form, acid.
  • Effective up to pH 6.0.
  • Very effective against mold.
  • Gentle on yeast cells.
  • 0.1–0.3%.
  • Added directly to yeast-leavened bakery formulations such as white pan bread, buns, variety bread, or frozen dough.
  • (1) (2)
  • Excessive amounts create strong, soapy flavors and off-odors.
Sorbate (Potassium)

Active component: Sorbic acid

  • Sorbate salts in a solution are converted into the active form, acid.
  • 3–4 times more effective than propionates against mold spores and rope bacteria.
  • Works effectively at pH as high as 6.5.
  • Not recommended for yeasted doughs.
  • Slightly effective against bacteria.
  • When used in dough at very low levels (20–40 ppm), sorbic acid functions as a reducing agent.
  • Pie fillings and icings.
  • 10% solution sprayed on the surface of baked products (cakes, muffins, pastries, bread).
  • (1) (2) (3)

Category 2: Antioxidants2,3

Relevant aspects / benefits Challenges
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Prevents the enzymatic browning of fruits.
  • Quenches various forms of oxygen and free radicals reduction.
  • Acts as a synergist of alpha-tocopherol, citric acid, BHA, BHT.
  • Its oxidized form functions as a dough strengthener.
  • Readily converted to its oxidized form, dehydro ascorbic acid, in the presence of oxygen. Then, it looses its antioxidant capacity.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Propyl gallate (PG)

Tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

  • Commercialized as white or slightly yellow fine crystals.
  • Used in margarine, shortenings, butter and fat-rich baked goods.
  • Removes free radicals formed during autoxidation of unsaturated lipids.
  • Has antimicrobial activity as a phenolic compound.
  • May protect the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E.
  • Effective at low levels: 0.02% (formula %).
  • Not compatible with clean label and natural products trends. (1)

Category 3: Sequestrants2,3

Relevant aspects / benefits Challenges
Citric Acid

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

Polyphosphates

  • Commercialized  as non-hygroscopic powders that are colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
  • Used to control the reaction of trace metals with food components and to prevent deterioration of color and oxidation.
  • Used to improve the whipping properties of angel food cake  and meringues.
  • Used at 0.01% to increase the effectiveness of antioxidants in lard/shortening.
  • Citric acid is compatible with clean label trends.
  • EDTA and phosphates are not compatible with clean label and natural products trends. (1)

FDA regulation

Preservative Usage limit3 Status3
Antimicrobials
Benzoates 0.1% GRAS
Propionates and Sorbate The ingredient is used in baked goods at levels according to current GMP. GRAS
Antioxidants
Vitamin C The ingredient is used in baked goods at levels according to current GMP. GRAS
BHA and BHT General use: 0.02%, based on the weight of the fat or oil. GRAS
PG Not allowed to use in combination with TBHQ.

For general use: 0.02%, alone or in combination with BHT or BHA by weight of lipid portion of food.

GRAS
TBHQ Not allowed to use in combination with PG.

For general use: 0.02%, based on lipid content of food.

Not GRAS
Sequestrants
EDTA 60 ppm spice extracts in soluble carriers

100 ppm pecan pie filling

100 ppm in artificially colored lemon

Not GRAS
Polyphosphates and Citric acid The ingredient is used in foods at levels according to current GMP. GRAS

References

  1. Tucker, G.S. Food Preservation and Biodeterioration, 2nd Edition, by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016, pp. 1–35;193–204.
  2. Igoe, R.S. Dictionary of Food Ingredients, 5th Edition, by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, 2011, pp. 3–244.
  3. Smith, J. Food Additives Data Book, 2nd Edition, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011, pp. 2–916.