Food Preservatives

Names of Food Preservatives on Product Labels:

Some of the most common names of food preservatives found on product labels include: ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, and tocopherols (Vitamin E).

What Food Preservatives do:

Food preservatives prevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials); slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness.

Examples of Uses for Food Preservatives:

Food preservatives are used for fruit sauces and jellies, beverages, baked goods, cured meats, oils and margarines, cereals, dressings, snack foods, fruits and vegetables.

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Toxic preservative. Used in powdered spices to stop color change. Also used in pet food. Suspected liver and kidney cancer cause and more. To find more …

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Food Additives Resources

Got questions?

Get answers about food additives and ingredients.

Food and Drug Administration

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)  5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740-3835

Color Additives Information Color Additives 

Toll free information line: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (723-3366)

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety Education Staff 1400 Independence Ave., SW Room 2932-S

Washington, DC 20250-3700

Food Additives Information Fact Sheets on Additives

Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555

TTY: 1-800-256-7072


Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC)

USDA Ag Research Service

10301 Baltimore Ave.

Beltsville, MD 20705-2351



International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) IFIC

1100 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 430

Washington, DC 20036

202-296-6540                Email:

American Dietetic Association (ADA) ADA

216 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60606-6995


The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) FAAN

11781 Lee Jackson Hwy. Suite 160 Fairfax, VA 22033 1-800-929-4040


Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) IFT

525 West Van Buren Suite 1000 Chicago, IL 60607 1-800-IFT-FOOD (438-3663)