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Ask Tufts Experts September 2015 Issue

Q. We eat lots of figs and the brand my husband prefers has potassium sorbate as a preservative. Is potassium sorbate safe?

A. The US Food and Drug Administration lists potassium sorbate as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). In animals, according to the FDA, potassium sorbate demonstrates “very low acute or chronic toxicity.” Although no metabolic or toxicological studies had been conducted in humans when the agency ruled on the preservative’s safety, the similarity of how potassium sorbate is metabolized in humans and animals “suggests that no deleterious effects are to be expected… in the diet even in amounts many times greater than those at which it appears to be used.” The bottom line? There is no evidence that potassium sorbate is a hazard “at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.”

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