E214 – Ethyl-P-Hydroxybenzoate

E214 is a food additive from the category of chemical preservatives. E214 is a derivative of benzoic acid E 210, also known as Ethyl-P-Hydroxybenzoate or ethylparaben, and is a member of the parabens family, which includes other compounds such as methylparaben (E218) and propylparaben (E216). These substances are esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid and are widely used for their antimicrobial properties, helping to extend the shelf life of various food products by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi.

From a chemical perspective, E214 consists of the ethyl ester of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid. It appears as a white crystalline powder, soluble in alcohol and slightly soluble in water. This solubility profile allows it to be used effectively in a variety of food formulations, especially those where moisture is present and microbial growth is a concern.

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What is the recommended daily dose ?

 E214 is approved for use as a food additive in many countries, including those in the European Union, where it is listed in the E number system. The permitted levels of E214 in food products are strictly regulated to ensure consumer safety. For example, the maximum allowed concentration varies depending on the type of food product, typically ranging from 0.1% to 0.3%.

These regulations are based on extensive scientific evaluations that assess the risk of exposure and ensure that the levels used do not pose significant risks to consumer health. It is important to note that the food industry must comply with these regulations and ensure that the additive is used within the specified limits.

Do you know in which products the E214 additive  is found? InfoCons Consumer Protection informs you!

 E214 is primarily used as a preservative in food products, where its antimicrobial properties help inhibit the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria. Here are some common applications:

  • Bakery products: E214 is often added to cakes, pastries, and bread to prevent spoilage, especially in products with a longer shelf life.
  • Dairy products: It is used in cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products to reduce the risk of contamination with harmful microorganisms.
  • Beverages: Certain soft drinks and fruit juices incorporate E214 to maintain freshness and prevent microbial growth.
  • Processed meats: E214 helps preserve sausages, deli meats, and other processed meat products.
  • Confectionery: Candies, jams, and other sweet treats also benefit from the preservative properties of E214 to extend their shelf life.

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Contraindications and risks

In some individuals, benzoates can cause allergic reactions. Additionally, parabens (E 214, E 215, E 218, E 219) appear to have estrogenic effects (increasing estrogen production). In combination with azo food colorings, they favor hyperactivity in children (ADHD syndrome). They are not permitted in products for infants and young children. In conclusion, consumers should remain informed about the presence of such additives in their food and consider any potential health implications, especially if they have allergies or other concerns related to cumulative exposure. Understanding food additives like E214 empowers consumers to make more informed choices about the foods they consume and helps maintain the safety and quality of food.

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Author – Cosmina Nițu

Master in Nutrition – Infant and new born nutrition

Sources:

https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/ – European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

InfoCons – European Organization for Consumers Protection and Promotion of Programs and Strategies , a full member of the World Organization Consumers International, founding member of the Federation of Consumer Associations, and member of ANEC.

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