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Potassium sorbate (in Europe: E202, or 'Kaliumsorbat' in German) spoils a lot of the packaged food for me – I clearly smell and taste it. I can also clearly smell it e.g. in a medicinal cream I bought at the pharmacy. The smell/taste is very specific, a kind of organic 'sweetish-sour', remotely reminding me of wax when it is stronger, and I don't really like it. The taste also doesn't disappear after cooking as I just experienced with a pack of fresh potato dumpling dough from the supermarket (Germany) – after kneading the dough I could still smell the additive in my hand palms for a few hours.

All the online info sources suggest that potassium sorbate wouldn't impart its own taste to the food, but the opposite is the case in my experience. Now I wonder if it's possible that not everyone can smell/taste it, e.g., for genetic reasons? Otherwise the Internet should be full of comments to this effect.

  • What is your feeling to this en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_domestica perhaps you can identify if it is really sorbic ac. / sorbate that you dislike so much. However it is also possible that one likes the fruits but not the molecule itself. I wonder how much sorbate is in the item you mention. I think it might be something that is smelled and tasted by many but perhaps goes under a generic "already made" or "industrial" food term. Frozen pizza for instance gave me a "waxy-sweet-sour" feeling that I convey saying they are ok as a snack or in emergency, not too bad but taste artificial. – Alchimista Feb 5 at 10:45
  • Would you also describe the odor as "fruity" or "acetone-like?" – Jan Jun 11 at 12:08
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Exercise.com and Moonsharvest.com say potassium sorbate can have a sweet odor.

According to Wikipedia, some yeasts can change potassium sorbate into pentadiene, which has a typical odor of kerosene or petroleum.

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