Preservatives: unauthorized presence?

Among food additives, macro-categories can be distinguished according to their function:

  • Additives that help preserve the freshness of food by decreasing microbial contamination (preservatives and antioxidants);
  • Additives that improve food characteristics (coloring agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, sweeteners, flavor enhancers, acidity regulators).

On what does the authorization depend?

Before they can be introduced into the food during its production, they undergo a lengthy process of evaluating their safety. However, as stated in the REGULATION (EC) No 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL, the authorization of an additive is granted only if a “technological purpose” exists. Additives authorized at the European level are marked with a numerical abbreviation preceded by the letter E.

In some foodstuffs, such as pasta, honey and olive oil, the use of additives is not permitted because it is not justified technologically. In other foods the use of additives is very limited while, the more a food is processed the more additives are allowed and used. Products such as snacks, sauces and desserts require a lot of processing, consequently more food additives are allowed to be used.

Misuse: a real problem

Since the use of additives is not authorized in all foods, and depending on the food, only some additives may be authorized at the expense of others, the work of control bodies remains crucial.

Over the past 12 months, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has issued 7 alerts for the unauthorized presence of benzoic and/or sorbic acid in various foods.
For example, RASFF No. 2022.6473 reports the unauthorized presence in tomato sauce.

Taking a cue from these RASFF reports, it appears that benzoic acid (E210) and its salts, which are used to combat the action of yeasts and bacteria in foods characterized by an acidic pH, was found in tomato puree when in fact it is not an authorized use.

In Annex II of Regulation (EC) No.1333/2008, the entire list concerning the uses and foods authorized for benzoic acid is available.

Our commitment

We at Test Veritas are committed to providing interlaboratory circuits that are in line with the needs of the market, which is why in 2023 we decided to propose the new PT:

PT for the research of Citric, sorbic and benzoic acid
in tomato sauce (code VF3207)
Round of May 2023

  • Test Material: tomato sauce 1 sample of 50g
  • Analytes: citric acid, sorbic acid and benzoic acid. It is guaranteed that all the analytes mentioned are present but it is not necessary to research all of them. You will receive the evaluation only for the molecules that you actually researched.
  • Deadline for online order: March 31st 2023
  • Shipping date: May 15th 2023
  • For this PT, as for all those that are part of the Progetto Trieste – Additives, it is possible to submit 2 sets of results and thus evaluate with one subscription 2 laboratory technicians, or two different techniques.
  • The price is only 231,00€!

If you want to see more details about this or other PTs, such as the schedule, prices… go to this page to download the entire programme.

Here you can find information on HOW TO ORDER.

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact us at

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