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Mono and diglycerides (E 471): Use

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 274 views

E 471 makes ice cream creamy and bread crispy. Behind the food additive are mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids . They act as an emulsifier and make food last longer. Read everything you need to know about mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids here.

What is E471?

The additive E 471 is basically a breakdown product of triglycerides (edible fatty acids). It occurs naturally in the human organism. For use in the food sector, however, the additive E 471 is chemically produced using glycerin and fatty acids. The fatty acids used for this are usually vegetable – such as soybean oil. However, it also happens that animal fats are used. Therefore, in some cases, the additive is not vegan.

With warm water , E 471 develops emulsifying properties, which are further intensified when salts of fatty acids (E 470a) are added.

What is E 471 used for?

The additive is used in a wide range of applications in the food industry. Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids are commonly used to blend fatty ingredients with aqueous ingredients that cannot otherwise be combined. So they act as an emulsifier. Above all, E 471 helps to extend the shelf life of products.

In baked goods, for example, E 471 refines the crumb structure and maintains the ability to bind water for longer, so that the food does not become dry and stale as quickly.

The additive also makes ice cream smoother and allows it to melt more slowly. The anti-foaming properties of this substance are used in the production of jams and jellies.

In addition, E 471 can be found in these foods, among others:

  • quick cook rice
  • cured meats
  • Bakery products
  • jellies, marmalade, jam
  • cream products
  • chocolate products
  • Infant (follow-on) food

Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids are also used in cosmetic products.

Is E 471 harmful?

E 471 is considered harmless, it is involved in the fat metabolism. There is no ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) value that defines the maximum amount that is safe for health over the entire lifespan of an adult.

According to the principle quantis satum, just as much E 471 as is necessary to achieve certain properties may be used in the manufacture of food products. In sensitive people, however, this additive can trigger allergies.

It is true that E 471 consists partly of saturated fatty acids, which are associated with an increased risk of various cardiovascular diseases. However, there is no scientific evidence that this also applies to mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids.

Various food regulatory agencies consider the substance a common part of the human diet. However, if you want to avoid genetic engineering and/or animal-based foods, you should avoid products with E 471.

E 471 and genetic engineering

Genetically modified organisms may also be used in the production of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, mostly so-called GM soybeans.

This is usually not marked on the corresponding products. It is not legally clear whether this has to be done for additives that go through several processing steps during production.

In addition, with an internationally traded commodity such as soybeans, it is technically hardly possible to strictly separate conventional and GM soybeans. It can therefore be assumed that even products declared as “free of genetic engineering” may contain GM soybeans.

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