Useful antifungal agent

The New Straits Times, August 14 ,1995

Q: A friend recently suggested adding a spoonful of sodium propionate into the dough for baking cake and bread. No specific quantity was mentioned. He claimed that the substance can act as a preservative to check or prevent the growth of microorganisms. Is this true and how safe is it?

A: Yes, sodium propionate, a sodium salt of propionic acid (naturally occurring fatty acid) is a kind of preservative use in preventing moulding of bread.

it is an antifungal agent which acts against three families of moulds, Its calcium salt also possesses similar properties. They are normally  used in producing dairy and bakery products and frozen pizza.

The usual amount used is 300mg/kg calculated on the weight of flour. At this amount, there are known toxicological problems although there is one report suggesting its association with certain migraine headaches.

As a word of caution, it is good, to remember that we are better off with fresh, natural produce, but as things stand, moderate use of preservatives is all right if the benefits outweigh the risks.

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