Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid. It is a white salt that is very soluble in water (58.2% at 20°C). It is primarily used as a food preservative (E number 202).
Potassium sorbate is produced industrially by neutralizing sorbic acid with potassium hydroxide. The precursor sorbic acid is produced in a two-step process via the condensation of crotonaldehyde and ketene.
It is used in the formulation of facial and eye makeup and personal skin-care and hair products.
Potassium sorbate is used to inhibit molds and yeasts in many foods, such as cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meats, apple cider, soft drinks and fruit drinks, and baked goods. It can also be found in the ingredients list of many dried fruit products. In addition, herbal dietary supplement products generally contain potassium sorbate, which acts to prevent mold and microbes and to increase shelf life. Also known as "wine stabilizer", potassium sorbate produces sorbic acid when added to wine.