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Synthetic e thyl ester of benzoic acid. Benzoic acid, benzoates and benzoic acid esters are commonly found in most fruits, especially berries. Cranberries are a very rich source of benzoic acid. In addition to fruits, benzoates occur naturally in mushrooms, cinnamon, cloves and some dairy products (as a result of bacterial fermentation). For commercial purposes, benzoic acid is prepared chemically from toluene and then esterified.
Function & characteristics:
Benzoic acid and benzoates are used as preservatives against both yeasts and fungi. They are not very effective against bacteria. Activity does not depend on acidity. Benzoic acid esters are poorly soluble, which limits application.
Benzoic acid esters are used in a wide range of food products and cosmetics.
Daily intake:
Up to 10 mg/kg body weight.
Side effects:
No side effects in the concentrations used. In some people benzoic acid esters may liberate histamine and thus cause pseudo-allergic reactions. The presence of E216 in cosmetics may elicit contact allergies, which are not common with food applications.
Dietary restrictions:
None – benzoic acid esters can be consumed by all religious groups, vegans and vegetarians.

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