Food additives and contaminants

Nucleophilic reactions of sorbic acid.

PMID 2253813


The conjugated dienoic acid structure of sorbic acid renders it susceptible to nucleophilic attack. Nucleophiles known to react with sorbic acid include sulphite ion and amines. These attack the molecule in position 5 and, in the cse of amines, cyclization to form substituted dihydropyridones may follow. Recent investigations show that thiols in general can also add to sorbic acid. Cysteine, for example, reacts slowly with sorbic acid at 80 degrees C and pH 5.5, leading to 5-substituted 3-hexenoic acid. In general, reaction products are difficult to isolate from aqueous reaction mixtures as they are susceptible to acid- and base-catalysed hydrolysis. A synthesis of model compounds may be carried out by reaction of sorbate esters with the appropriate thiol (or its ester if it is an acid) in the presence of the corresponding sodium alkoxide. It is interesting that alkyl thiols give di-adducts with sorbate ester whilst low molecular weight thiols containing an oxygen atom give a monoadduct. The mechanism of this reaction and its implications to the preparation of samples for toxicological evaluation are discussed. The reaction of sorbic acid with nitrite ion is unusual and its mechanism is considered.