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Preservatives allow products such as soft drinks to have a longer shelf life by slowing or stopping the growth of micro-organisms (yeasts, moulds and bacteria).

Not all soft drinks contain preservatives, the need for a preservative depends on the type of product and the processing used.
Fruit juices can be heat treated or aseptically filled so they dont require preservatives.
Bottled waters are hygienically filled and do not contain enough nutrients to allow micro-organisms to grow.

Soft drinks containing fruit juice and sugar typically need preservatives to prevent microbiological spoilage.

There are only four preservatives currently used by the soft drinks industry:

Sulphur dioxide
Sodium benzoate
Potassium sorbate
Dimethyl dicarbonate