Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time A-Z Guide To Food Additive (Paperback)

E232 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU) and used as an antibacterial and antifungal synthetic preservative in food products, particularly citrus fruits to prevent the growth of penicillium mould. It is mainly used for agricultural purposes.

The common name for E232 is sodium orthophenyl phenol, but it may also be referred to as 2-phenylphenol or biphenylol.

E232 is the sodium salt of phenylphenol and is synthesised from phenyl ether. As well as a pesticide, E232 can be used as a disinfectant for seed boxes. As it is highly soluble, it can be used for spraying or dipping fruits. The chemical can also be used to sterilise medical equipment. Its residue can be removed easily by washing.

E232 can cause severe irritation with contact to eyes and has also been known to cause skin irritation.

Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E232:

  • oranges
  • lemons
  • grapefruits

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