Preservative

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A preservative is a naturally occurring or synthetic substance that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples, wood, etc. to prevent decomposition by microbial growth or by undesirable chemical changes.

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Preservatives in wood

Preservatives may be added to wood to prevent the growth of fungi as well as to repel insects and termites. Typically arsenic, copper, chromium, borate, and petroleum based chemical compounds are used. For more information on wood preservatives, see timber treatment.

Preservatives in foods

Preservative food additives can be used alone or in conjunction with other methods of food preservation. Preservatives may be antimicrobial preservatives, which inhibit the growth of bacteria or fungi, including mold, or antioxidants such as oxygen absorbers, which inhibit the oxidation of food constituents. Common antimicrobial preservatives include calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sulfites (sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfite, potassium hydrogen sulfite, etc.) and disodium EDTA. Antioxidants include BHA and BHT. Other preservatives include formaldehyde (usually in solution), glutaraldehyde (kills insects), ethanol and methylchloroisothiazolinone. FDA standards do not currently require fruit and vegetable product labels to reflect the type of chemical preservative(s) used on the produce.[citation needed] The benefits and safety of many artificial food additives (including preservatives) are the subject of debate among academics and regulators specializing in food science, toxicology, and biology.

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