Preservatives in Juice, Pickles and Jam
We Must Know the Preservatives We Use.
Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
Bacteria, fungus and yeast are the worst foes of the good food we want to preserve. In cold they do not multiply as much. But in warm moist conditions, they thrive. How do we preserve those excess tomatoes or lemon, in season, keeping these predators at bay? Bottled drinks are a boon in summer. How are theyn preserved? Preservative, is the answer, no doubt. But how good are the preservatives for our health?
For a hundred years, the preservatives, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate are used by pickles, juice and jam manufactures. Even when we make juice or jam at home, it has become a common practice now to add these preservatives.
Food items to which preservatives are added:
Bottled drinks, natural juice, pickles, vinegar, sauces, jam and similar items which contain water. For the preservatives to be active, the pH of the food product should be low, that is, less than 3.6. This means the food should be acidic. These food items are given a longer shelf life by preservatives as their freshness is maintained.
How Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate give a longer shelf life to food:
Sodium Benzoate (its product designation number is E 211) is the Sodium salt of Benzoic acid. Potassium Benzoate (its product designation number is E 212) is similarly the Potassium salt of Benzoic acid. Both are white, crystalline and hygroscopic, that is, absorb moisture from air. They have to be kept tightly closed or become liquid.
When these salts are added to the products, the Benzoic acid is absorbed by the cells, which lowers its pH. It prevents the anaerobic fermentation, actively, depending on the heat, light and the duration the food is used.
These preservatives do not kill the bacteria and mould, but inhibit their growth.
It is interesting to know that certain fruits contain Sodium Benzoate. Apples, plums and cranberries contain this.
The questionable nature of these preservatives:
Professor Piper of the University of Sheffield, claims that Sodium Benzoate damages the vital parts of the DNA, in a cell’s mitochondria. Mitochondria generates ATP (Adenocine-5′-triphosphate, a co-enzyme), by consuming oxygen, for inter-cellular energy transfer.The result is cell malfunction and apoptosis. This leads to PCD, that is Programmed Cell Death in multicellular organisms. Neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s disease and in general quickening of the aging process occur, as a result.
Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate, in combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), may produce Benzene, a known carcinogen. Production of Benzene depends on the heat, light and the length of time the product is kept.
In combination with artificial colours (sunset yellow, quinoline yellow, allura red, Tartrazine, Amaranth, Carmoizine) these substances are known to produce hyperactivity in children, allergic reaction like itching, asthma and migrane in most of the people. Also, weakness, anxiety, clinical depression, blurred vision, sleep disorder and heat waves are known to be caused.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) demands that only 1% of these preservatives should be used in food. This seems meagre and safe, but counting the number of products we take each day, it works out to a considerable quantity.
More information can be had from Food reactions website.