Given the vast array of food preservation options available to food manufacturers and processors, buying chemical food preservatives should not be the primary way of extending the freshness of your food product. Some chemical food preservatives are dangerous and should be avoided. Benzoates, which are often used in fruit juices, can cause hives and allergies in sensitive people. Butylates, which are used in butter and margarine products, are said to cause high blood pressure and cholesterol and be a human carcinogen. If you choose to buy chemical additives to preserve your food, do so responsibly.

Step 1.

Research whether you will need the chemical food preservative at all. Given the dangers of many chemical food preservatives, you may want to look into alternatives. Find out if there are natural food preservatives that could substitute for the chemicals. Natural preservatives such as onions, salt, sugar, vinegar and rosemary extract are ancient and effective methods of preserving foods. Other options include methods of preservation, including pickling, freezing, boiling and smoking.

Step 2.

Determine which chemical food preservatives will be most effective for your food processing goals, based on the type of food you are preserving. Preservatives tend to have an established food niche with specialized uses and are not easily interchangeable with one another. Certain preservatives tend to be used with certain foods, such as sulfur dioxide and sulfites for juices, wine and beer. Some chemical preservatives like potassium sorbate and sorbic acid have a wide range of uses since they do not interfere with any curing activity that may take place, such as in pickles and cultured dairy products. Sorbates can be used in cheeses, baked goods, spreads, jams and jellies. Use benzoates, which have been in use since the early 1900s, to preserve fruit juices, condiments, puddings and fats.

Step 3.

Choose a chemical preservative that targets the type of spoilage that is typical of food in your category. Chemical preservatives can extend the shelf life of your food by either inhibiting or killing bacterial growth that produces spoilage. Take into account the various actions of several different kinds of chemical preservatives: antimicrobial agents such as sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and sodium nitrite prevent mold and yeast development. Other chemical preservatives like sulfites, vitamins E and C, and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) act as antioxidants that keep food from becoming rancid. The class of chelating agents such as citric acid and disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) deactivates bacteria and fungi by removing the metal cofactors that bacterial enzymes need to grow.

Step 4.

Find suppliers of chemical food preservatives on sites such as or There you will see listings of manufacturers and distributors of chemical food preservatives. Some companies will have summaries of their main product lines, as well as websites and contact information.

Step 5.

Obtain quotes from the suppliers of interest. Request information through the email text boxes provided.

Step 6.

Compare prices, taking into account the quantities that are offered. Find out if you can purchase amounts that are appropriate for your anticipated use. Keep in mind that excessive amounts of certain preservatives can be harmful.

Step 7.

Check the FDA's food safety regulations before purchasing from unfamiliar international companies to ascertain policies on importing chemical food preservatives from abroad.