Paraben is a type of chemical substance frequently used as a preservative. One of the most commonly used form of paraben is methylparaben. Methylparaben has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that protect a number of different consumer products against microbial growth. Despite recent controversy concerning its safety, Methylparaben continues to be used as a preservative, today.
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Methylparaben is widely used as a preservative in various cosmetic products. It is typically found in combination with other parabens, such as propylparaben and butylparaben to provide a broad spectrum preservative effect. Cosmetics that contain methylparaben include makeup, hair care products, moisturizers and lotions, shaving products and toothpastes.
The preservative effects of methylparaben also protect pharmaceutical products from contamination by microorganisms. Topical antibiotics, preparations of corticosteroids, ophthalmic medications, herbal preparations, parenteral solutions and other pharmaceutical products use methylparaben. Even certain antibiotics, such as aqueous penicillin, are protected from fungal contamination with methylparaben.
Because methylparaben is an effective inhibitor of molds, yeasts and other microorganisms that commonly grow on food products, it is frequently used as a food preservative. Methylparaben may be found in baked goods, creams and pastes, jams and jellies, syrups, processed vegetables, oils, seasonings, dairy products, and beverages. Methylparaben is frequently used to inhibit the growth of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which can cause the often fatal illness of botulism.