The high moisture content in some foods causes the growth of micro-organisms. Sorbic acid is a natural preservative that is often used to prevent the spoilage or moulding of these products. It is used as a food preservative in bakery products, processed fruit products, and dairy because it inhibits the growth of mould, yeast and fungi and thus extends the normal shelf life of food products.
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Sorbic acid is widely used in bread and other bakery products. According to Free Patents Online, sorbic acid is added to dough before baking to extend the shelf life of bakery products by a couple weeks. Sorbic acid functions as a preservative by inhibiting the formation of mould and retarding the fermentation of the dough. It is normally added carefully to the dough, to ensure even distribution. Sometimes the sorbic acid is mixed in with the flour prior to making the dough.
Sorbic acid is used in fermented dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt. It is used to treat the surface of hard and semi-hard cheeses to prevent the growth of moulds when the cheeses are in the ripening stage and also during storage to preserve their quality.
Sorbic acid is added to jellies to extend the normal shelf life of the product and to prevent the growth of yeast and fungi. According to Professional Friends of Wine, most fruits or berries do not have a high enough sugar content for natural fermentation, so sorbic acid is added. Grapes, however, are the only fruit with an adequate level of sugar and a balance of acid and nutrients to sustain a natural fermentation. The other fruits typically used to make jellies or even wine may ferment, but additional sugar, sorbic acid and other preservatives such as soluble potassium salt and potassium sorbate (a derivative of sorbic acid) are added to prevent spoilage.
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