Exposure assessment of food preservatives (sulphites, benzoic and sorbic acid) in Austria

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2012;29(3):371-82. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2011.643415. Epub 2012 Jan 23.


An exposure assessment was performed to estimate the potential intake of preservatives in the Austrian population. Food consumption data of different population groups, such as preschool children aged 3-6 years, female and male adults aged 19-65 years were used for calculation. Levels of the preservatives in food were derived from analyses conducted from January 2007 to August 2010. Dietary intakes of the preservatives were estimated and compared to the respective acceptable daily intakes (ADIs). In the average-intake scenario, assuming that consumers randomly consume food products that do or do not contain food additives, estimated dietary intakes of all studied preservatives are well below the ADI for all population groups. Sulphite exposure accounted for 34%, 84% and 89% of the ADI in preschool children, females and males, respectively. The mean estimated daily intake of benzoic acid was 32% (preschool children), 31% (males) and 36% (females) of the ADI. Sorbic acid intakes correspond to 7% of the ADI in preschool children and 6% of the ADI in adults. In the high-intake scenario assuming that consumers always consume food products that contain additives and considering a kind of brand loyalty of consumers, the ADI is exceeded for sulphites among adults (119 and 124%, respectively). Major contributors to the total intake of sulphites were wine and dried fruits for adults. Mean estimated dietary intakes of benzoic acid exceeded the ADI in all population groups, 135% in preschool children, 124% in females and 118% of the ADI in males, respectively. Dietary intakes of sorbic acid are well below the ADI, accounting for a maximum of 30% of the ADI in preschool children. The highest contributors to benzoic and sorbic acid exposure were fish and fish products mainly caused by high consumption data of this large food group, including also mayonnaise-containing fish salads. Other important sources of sorbic acid were bread, buns and toast bread and fruit and vegetable juices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Austria
  • Benzoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Benzoic Acid / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Food Preservatives / administration & dosage*
  • Food Preservatives / adverse effects
  • Food, Preserved / adverse effects
  • Food, Preserved / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Sorbic Acid / adverse effects
  • Sulfites / administration & dosage*
  • Sulfites / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Food Preservatives
  • Sulfites
  • Benzoic Acid
  • Sorbic Acid