Chemical food preservatives are also being used for quite some time now. They seem to be the best and the most effective for a longer shelf life and are generally full proof for the preservation purpose.

Antimicrobial preservatives prevent degradation by bacteria. This method is the most traditional and ancient type of preserving—ancient methods such as pickling and adding honey prevent microorganism growth by modifying the pH level. The most commonly used antimicrobial preservative is lactic acid. Common antimicrobial preservatives are presented in the table. Nitrates and nitrites are also antimicrobial.

 Antimicrobial preservatives 
E numberchemical compoundcomment
E200 – E203sorbic acid, sodium sorbate and sorbatescommon for cheese, wine, baked goods, personal care products
E210 – E213benzoic acid and benzoatesused in acidic foods such as jams, salad dressing, juices, pickles, carbonated drinks, soy sauce
E214 – E219parabensstable at a broad pH range, personal care products
E220 – E228sulfur dioxide and sulfitescommon for fruits, wine
E249 – E250nitritesused in meats to prevent botulism toxin
E251 – E252nitratesused in meats
E270lactic acid
E280 – E283propionic acid and propionatesbaked goods
E338phosphoric acidused in some jams, preserves and carbonated drinks; also used for acidification and for flavouring.
n/aisothiazolinones (MIT, CMIT, BIT)home and personal care products, paints/coatings
n/aformaldehyde releasers (DMDM hydantoin)home and personal care products



The oxidation process spoils most food, especially those with a high fat content. Fats quickly turn rancid when exposed to oxygen. Antioxidants prevent or inhibit the oxidation process. The most common antioxidant additives are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and ascorbates.[11] Thus, antioxidants are commonly added to oils, cheese, and chips.

E numberchemical compoundcomment
E300-304ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbatecheese, chips
E321butylated hydroxytoluene, butylated hydroxyanisolealso used in food packaging
E310-312gallic acid and sodium gallateoxygen scavenger
E220 – E227sulfur dioxide and sulfitesbeverages, wine
E306 – E309tocopherolsvitamin E activity