A preservative with the difficult to pronounce name “para-hydroxybenzoic acid propyl ether, sodium salt” is a dietary supplement with the properties of a preservative and a stabilizer, but finding it on food labels has recently become very difficult. The thing is that the substance, which is also designated by the code “E217”, was banned for use in food in almost all countries of the world because of the high danger to humans. Therefore, today reliable and bona fide producers do not use it at all for food, and those who still, in violation of the prohibition, use the substance in the process of making edible products do not in any way note this harmful component in the composition.
Chemical characteristics of the additive, its basic properties
Substance with the code E217 is the sodium salt of propyl paraben. It looks like a white powder consisting of small crystals of various forms. In case there are any impurities in the structure, colors with a grayish or cream shade are permissible. Salt is well soluble in water, glycols and oil and fat mixtures, moderately soluble in alcohols and acids, has no odor, and when it comes into contact with the tongue it has the effect of light anesthetic. The boiling point of the substance is 97 degrees Celsius. Production takes place in the laboratory by artificial means, as a result of several stages of chemical reactions.
The properties possessed by E217 additive unambiguously attribute it to the group of preservatives. It is able to inhibit the growth and development of various microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, mold and fungi) in the product, thereby preventing the occurrence of an unpleasant taste or taste, smell, mold, and does not allow the formation of toxins of microbial origin. In some products contributes to the formation and consolidation of the necessary structure, that is, behaves as a stabilizer. It is because of the wide range of effects and high stability with temperature treatment that quite recently the substance has been highly valued in the food industry, as well as in some other industries.
How to use para-hydroxybenzoic acid, propyl ether, sodium salt
Before the use of E217 in food was imposed a categorical ban in most states, just 10-15 years ago, significant amounts of it were supplied to the food industry. The preservative was used to extend the shelf life of lump meat and products prepared from it: pies, minced meat, broths. In addition, the substance was also found in the composition of jelly, marmalade, sweets with filling, some desserts and dragees, cereals based on potatoes and cereals, confitures and chocolate. There is evidence that the additive in Ukraine is currently used for processing meat and confectionery products, but they have not been officially confirmed.
Today, the main field of application of propyl paraben sodium salt is in the cosmetics industry. Basically it is added to water based products:
The presence of the additive was also found in expensive, luxury cosmetic products, and in mass-market products.
Impact on the human body: why propyl parabens are more dangerous than ethyl parabens
E217 additive can have toxic, allergic and oncogenic effects on the body. As a result of its use in humans, symptoms that characterize the poisoning can be observed: nausea, vomiting, weakness, headaches, intestinal upset. Asthmatics, allergies and people with high blood pressure “meeting” this harmful ingredient in food can cost not only good health, but also serious complications associated with existing health problems, as it can provoke pressure jumps and allergy attacks and choking.
For children, eating with this preservative is also highly undesirable, as it leads to increased excitability, hyperactivity and dispersal of attention.
However, the most dangerous property of a substance is its ability to provoke the appearance and growth of malignant tumors. Although this sodium salt of propyl paraben is easily absorbed and excreted from the body without accumulating in it, it is susceptible to bacteriological biodegradation. As a result, phenol is formed in the body - a carcinogen. Ethylparaben-based food additives are not subject to such decomposition, and therefore are considered less harmful.
Moreover, today the study continues of the properties of cosmetics, which include sodium para-hydroxybenzoic acid propyl ester, as there is information about its possible oncogenicity.
According to some European scientists, the addition of E217 adversely affects the human reproductive system.
Some time ago, the average daily rate of a substance permitted to use was 10 mg per 1 kilogram of adult weight. Today, the additive is generally forbidden to eat any quantities. E217 does not possess any healthy properties.
Since 2005, the use of E217 preservative for the preparation of food products and the importation of products with it as part of the territory of Russia is prohibited. In Ukraine, Canada, the United States, the states of the European Union, similar bans are in force.
Once in the body, the substance not only can act as a toxin and allergen, causing a sharp deterioration in health, but also decomposes into harmful phenols, the accumulation of which in the body causes cancer.
To date, it is not known for certain whether cosmetics with sodium salt of propyl paraben have a similar effect in composition, however, recently manufacturers have gradually begun to refuse to use the additive in the process of making cosmetics, using safer analogues.