E239 is a food additive
approved by the European Union (EU) and used as an antibacterial and
preservative in food products, especially cheese.
The common name for E239 is hexamethylene tetramine.
It may also be known as hexamine or methenamine.
E239 becomes metabolised by the liver to then be excreted.
It can be used to treat urinary tract infections, due to
the low/ acidic
pH of the urine in which E239 is hydrolysed. The resultant chemical,
formaldehyde, works as an antiseptic when outside the body (in vitro).
E239 suspected of causing stomach upsets with long
term ingestion. Hexamine may also be carcinogenic and
It is thought to irritate skin and worsen asthma, as well as provoking
headaches and bronchitis.
Examples of food/drink products that may include E239:
Marinated fish, cheese and caviar.