E252 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU). It is a natural mineral that acts as a preservative in food products (especially as a curing agent in meat), due to its antimicrobial properties.
The common name for E252 is potassium nitrate. It is also known as vesta of powder.
The chemical can be obtained from vegetable matter or animal waste. It can also be synthesised industrially by the neutralisation of nitric acid by potassium chloride. E252 is used in gunpowder (as an oxidising agent) and as a fertiliser.
E252 may be a carcinogen, has been known to promote hyperactivity, and may cause damage to the reproductive system. This chemical is now banned in many countries.
Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E252:
- meat (smoked, cured and processed)
- root vegetables