Type to search

3 Types Of Food Preservatives You Should Know!

3 Types Of Food Preservatives You Should Know!

Home » Nutrition » 3 Types Of Food Preservatives You Should Know!

Most of us probably know that there are ‘something’ or ‘stuff’ called preservatives in most of the food we buy off the shelf but how well do we really know them and the long term health side effects of consuming food with such preservatives?


Generally, preservatives are widely used in the food industry to extend the shelf life of food. Infused with preservatives, food can last much longer without going mouldy or becoming infested with bugs or bacteria and because of this, can be kept ‘fresh’ for years.


Unfortunately, the chemical characteristics that make preservatives effective in killing bacteria and other organisms in food can affect our health. We explore 3 common types of such preservatives – Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites, Nitrates and Benzoates and their side effects on human.


1. Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites

  • Sulphur Dioxide (E220)
  • Sodium Sulphite (E221)
  • Sodium Bisulphite (E222)
  • Sodium Metabisulphite (E223)
  • Potassium Metabisulphite (E224)
  • Potassium Sulphite (E225)
  • Calcium Sulphite (E226)
  • Calcium Hydrogen Sulphite (E227)
  • Potassium Bisulphite (E228)


Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites are used :


– to prevent vegtables and fruits from turning brown after they have been peeled. Even in French Fries (found in those fast food joints) where the potatoes for the fries has peeled and hand cut.

– to prevent yeast and bacterial growth in food.

– to stop oil and fats from turning rancid (this extends their shelf life).

– stop wine from turning to vinegar and preserving the wine’s colour.

– as bleaching agent to bleach flour and food starches.

– to sterilise equipment and food containers in food factories and breweries.


Harmful Side Effects of Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites :


– Sulphites can cause severe dizziness, irregular breathing, asthma attacks, stomach problems, nervous irritability, blurred vision, breathlessness. Besides this, it can also reduce Vitamin B1 levels in people with vitmain deficiency.

– Sulphur Dioxide is linked to cases of mutations and cancer.



  • Potassium Nitrite (E249)
  • Sodium Nitrite (E250)
  • Sodium Nitrate (E251)
  • Potassium Nitrate (E252)


Nitrates are used :


– in luncheon meat, bacon, ham, cured meat, sausages, frankfurters, hot dogs, corned beaf , etc as nitrites give ham, hot dogs and bacon a pinkish colour (without which they will exhibit a dull grey exterior).


Harmful Side Effects of Nitrates :

– when ingested, coverts in the body to a highly toxic substance which causes headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties
– when combined with other chemical in the stomach, can form nitrosamines, a most potent form of cancer agent!



– when eating food containing high amount of nitrites, down it with drinks or other food with high Vitmain C at the same time as this will protect us against the cancer causing effects.

– Never give kids or infants food that contain nitrites as these young children are highly susceptible to the toxic effects of nitrites.



  • Benzoic Acid (E210)
  • Sodium Benzoate (E211)


Benzoates are used :


– to stop bacteria, fungi and yeast from growing in processed food such as carbonated drinks, sauces, toppings, jam, margarine, figs, coconut milk, concentrated tomato juice, pickles, etc


Harmful Side Effects of Benzoates :


– affects the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines
– enhances the actions of carcinogens in the body
– causes asthma, gastric irritation, allergies, skin reactions, hyperactivity and migraine

Madeline Kwan

Madeline graduated with honours in Bachelor of Science Dietetics with Nutrition and is now pursuing the Master Of Science (Health Sciences) course. Currently working as clinical dietitian in a private health institution in Singapore, Madeline shares her passion for nutrition & diet education, repoductive health and general fitness tips by in her articles for YesMyWellness.com. She is also involved in a number of community projects, which includes travelling to rural areas in South East Asia conducting talks, workshops, health checks.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *