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Is It Safe To Use Propylene Glycol in Food?

Views: 262     Author: Vickey     Publish Time: 2023-09-27      Origin: Site


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Is It Safe To Use Propylene Glycol in Food?

Propylene glycol is a chemical that finds widespread application in the cosmetics and food industries alike. For instance, it is a component that can be found in a wide variety of cosmetic and personal care products. In addition, it is an additive that is utilized in a variety of culinary products. The product has been deemed by regulatory bodies in both the United States and Europe to be suitable for use in the food manufacturing business.

The fact that this chemical is also utilized as an ingredient in the production of antifreeze has contributed to the rise of quite a bit of controversy around its use. Recent years have seen an increase in research that links use of foods containing propylene glycol to an increased risk to one's health. There have been assertions made that there might be some potentially harmful impacts.

This article takes a comprehensive look at what is propylene glycol, including its nature, the purposes for which it is employed, and  if it is safe to use propylene glycol in food.

What Exactly Is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol, often known as PG, is the end result of a chemical process that starts with propene and proceeds to the third stage. Refined oil and natural gas are byproducts of the combustion of fossil fuels, which produce propane. Moreover, PG is a naturally occurring fermentation byproduct found in nature. The chemical propylene oxide is volatile. It is believed that propylene contains certain carcinogenic characteristics. The last step, known as hydrolyzation, involves the addition of water to separate the molecules. Through this technique, propylene glycol is produced.

Propylene glycol is a molecule whose chemical formula is C3H8O2. It's a synthetic liquid substance with the ability to absorb water. Another name for it is 1,2-propanediol. It is an oily, transparent, tasteless, and odourless liquid that is diol alcohol, an organic substance. The product is referred to as propane-1,2-diol, whether it is listed as an ingredient or as a compound. The E-number E1520 is used to refer to it since it is utilized as an addition in foods, particularly in the United States.

Both a large number of processed food items and thousands of cosmetic goods include propylene glycol as a primary ingredient. This substance is also included in the majority of the prescriptions you take. It facilitates the body's more effective absorption of other substances. In addition to these, it is a crucial component of e-cigarettes. It smooths out both the taste and the smoke.

The research on this liquid material has not been devoid of ambiguity. The majority of individuals have also questioned if the product poses a risk to human health or is safe, as some have claimed. Until now, a compelling response to that query has eluded us. However, a large body of research indicates that propylene glycol rarely has bad consequences, and when it does, it's usually because an excessive amount of the molecule was consumed.

Still, this doesn't allay the worries. The majority of people continue to voice worries about this chemical in antifreeze being present in their food, particularly because the substance is used to deice airplanes. This has caused some quite loud outcries in recent years. One such instance involved the removal of an alcoholic beverage with unlawfully high propylene glycol concentrations from retail locations across three European nations. When the manufacturer provided the European recipe—which has one-sixth of the propylene glycol present in the American formula—instead of the North American formula, the levels became confused.

When consumers discovered that the chemical may be present in their favourite meals and drinks, they were both shocked and incensed. Due to its widespread use in products, the problem got worse. Many people were alarmed by the connection between propylene glycol and food, even though it serves the same purpose as salt—that is, reducing the freezing point of water—and was introduced into antifreeze products to replace a more hazardous chemical.

According to the Environmental Working Group's assessment, the study on this drug is deemed to be "fair." Position "3" on the EWG's scale of health concerns corresponds to propylene glycol. This indicates that there are only a few, if any, health risks related to the product. Additionally, it classifies the product's recognized problems under "allergies and immunotoxicity." There are no risks associated with the product that pertain to cancer or reproductive systems.

Important considerations for our discussion of propylene glycol's toxicity are as follows:

1. It isn't "bioaccumulative." That is, in people with healthy livers and kidneys, it is metabolized by the body in 48 hours when taken at recommended dosages. Furthermore, it doesn't build up in the body over time, which could cause toxicity.

2. This substance is only present at industrial-grade levels in paints, cushions, polyurethane, antifreeze, and similar items. The amounts present in food, however, are thought to be pharmaceutical-grade.

3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared the product to be “generally safe” in a toxicological profile.

What Is Propylene Glycol Used in Food?

Propylene glycol is mostly used as an ingredient to help digest food and enhance its texture, flavour, and shelf life.

In food, propylene glycol is used in the following ways:

1. Agent anti-Caking

It aids in preventing food particles from clinging to one another and clumping. For example, in dried soups or grated cheese.

2. Protectant

It prolongs the shelf life of food by shielding it from oxygen-induced degradation.

3. Provider

Certain food additives and nutrients—such as colours, antioxidants, and flavours—that are employed during processing are dissolved by it.

4. Strengthening dough

It alters the gluten and starches in the dough to increase its stability.

5. Emulsifier

It keeps food ingredients from separating. For example, the oil and vinegar in salad dressing

6. Preserve moisture

It keeps food from drying out by preserving a constant moisture content. These snacks consist of marshmallows, almonds, and coconut flakes.

7. Aiding in the process

It's employed to enhance food's consumer appeal or boost the population's consumption of it. Making a liquid clearer, for example,

8. Thickener and stabilizer

Additionally, food ingredients can be thickened or held together both during and after processing.

9. Moisturizer

It modifies the appearance of the meal to the eyes and how it feels in the mouth.

Dairy products, bread, fast food, popcorn, soft drinks, food colouring, dry soups, dressings, drink mixes, and several more packaged goods are among the items that include propylene glycol.

Additionally, it is utilized in hospitals for injection-based drugs like lorazepam. This substance is also included in several skin-care ointments and lotions. Corticosteroids are one such instance.

Owing to its chemical characteristics, the substance is frequently found in a variety of hygiene and cosmetic goods.

Is Propylene Glycol Safe in Food?

The FDA has classified propylene glycol as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS), indicating that it is safe to use in food (9). Propylene glycol has also been authorized for use as a food additive by the European Union (EU).

Although propylene glycol is thought to be safe, some people are worried about possible health consequences. These worries are related to the fact that lactic acid, which the body normally produces but which can be hazardous in excessive doses, is formed when propylene glycol is digested.

In one study, rats given a diet high in propylene glycol for six weeks had elevated blood levels of lactic acid, but not to the point where it was harmful (metabolic acidosis).

In addition to irritating the skin, propylene glycol may be dangerous if breathed. Animals that breathe in high concentrations of propylene glycol have been shown to develop lung injuries.

Therefore, even though propylene glycol is thought to be safe to use in food, there may be certain hazards to be aware of. You might wish to stay away from meals that contain this chemical if you have any concerns about its safety.

In Summary

Propylene glycol is a highly helpful chemical that is used in many different items in the culinary, medicine, cosmetic, and manufacturing industries. Although there have been a few documented incidents of drug toxicity resulting from large dosages, propylene glycol is generally regarded as a low-toxicity substance.

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