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E212 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU) and used as an antifungal and antibacterial synthetic preservative in food products, that works by inhibiting mould, yeasts and some bacteria.

E212 is also known by the common name of potassium benzoate and is the potassium salt of benzoic acid (E210).

The preservative acts as an alternative to sodium benzoate in foods that need low sodium content. E212 is not recommended for use in a pH greater than 4.5 but is recognised as a safe chemical in most cases.

Allergic reactions to E211 may occur in people who suffer from asthma, the skin disease urticaria or those sensitive to aspirin, especially when taken in conjunction with tartrazine (E102).

Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E212:

  • pickles
  • olives
  • prepared salads
  • tomato-based products
  • jams
  • margarines

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