The effect of food preservatives on pH homeostasis in Escherichia coli

J Gen Microbiol. 1984 Nov;130(11):2845-50. doi: 10.1099/00221287-130-11-2845.


The effects of cinnamic, propionic, benzoic and sorbic acids on the growth and intracellular pH of Escherichia coli were investigated. The data suggest that the potency of weak acids as food preservatives is related to their capacity to reduce specifically the intracellular pH. The data also suggest that although both the undissociated forms of the acid cause the intracellular pH to fall, growth inhibition is due predominantly to the undissociated acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzoates / pharmacology
  • Benzoic Acid
  • Cinnamates / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Food Preservatives / pharmacology*
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Propionates / pharmacology
  • Sorbic Acid / pharmacology


  • Benzoates
  • Cinnamates
  • Food Preservatives
  • Propionates
  • Benzoic Acid
  • propionic acid
  • cinnamic acid
  • Sorbic Acid