What’s Potassium Sorbate Doing In My Jam?

I bought a brand of “Ultralight” fruit jam today because it didn’t have 6 different kinds of sugar in it; however, it had these two ingredients that are not present in most other jams: guar gum and potassium sorbate.

Guar gum, as described by the popular health guru, Dr. Weil, is:

extracted from the seed pods of the guar tree (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) native to India and grown in the southwestern United States, is a complex carbohydrate that swells when it comes into contact with water and reportedly produces a sense of fullness when eaten.

He concludes:

…guar gum is unlikely to have any adverse effects in the small amounts added to foods as an emulsifying agent.

Potassium sorbate is another story. From one company’s site:

Potassium sorbate is used as a a mold, bacterial and yeast inhibitor and as a fungistatic agent in foods. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical, tobacco and flavoring products. In wines, it is to prevent the secondary fermentation of residual sugar. It is used in coating to improve gloss. It is used as an intermediate to manufacture plasticizers and lubricants.. It is used as an additive in rubber industry to improve milling characteristics.

The Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Lab at Oxford states that it may act as an irritant, giving this toxicity data:

ORL-RAT LD50 4920 mg kg-1
IPR-MUS LD50 1300 mg kg-1

That means 4920 mg kg-1 of it is a lethal dose to 50% of rats. IPR means intraperitoneal (injected near the adomen), and MUS is mouse.

Great. So, should I get a jam with sugar, corn syrup, fructose and glucose, or one with just sugar, guar gum and potassium sorbate? Die from a sugar high, or from convulsions?

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