They are essential to protect against alterations due to microorganisms. Some have been known for centuries such as acetic acid (vinegar) or potassium nitrate (saltpetre). Preservatives help to preserve our foodstuffs without affecting their flavour or nutritional value. They are particularly useful in fruit- or vegetable-based products, cooked pork meats or fish.

The selection of a preservative will depend on the process conditions, in particular the “pH” (acidity), the “water activity” (water is essential for microbial growth) and the type of organism that may be present in the food.It is only when one stops to consider their specific properties and subtle differences, their often synergistic effects, as well as their particular uses, that the need for a wide variety of additives becomes evident.
This section was written with the help of SYNPA.