E471: Emulsifier Used As An Additive In Food

In the food industry, there are various additives that can be found on the list of ingredients marked with E numbers. The emulsifier E471 is often found as a binder in pastries, spreads, and sausages. You can find out exactly what E471 is here.

What are the characteristics of E471?

The designation E471 hides mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, which are breakdown products of fats that also occur naturally in our food. As an industrially produced emulsifier, the substance combines ingredients containing water and fat – margarine, for example, becomes spreadable with it, while ice cream becomes creamy. Bread and rolls stay fresh longer thanks to E471, jams foam less. Due to the wide range of applications, numerous foods such as baby food contain E471, a look at the list of ingredients provides clarity. As an additive, the emulsifier is subject to labelling. This also applies to fruit and vegetables that are preserved in this way: E471 has been used for surface treatment (coating) since 2019 in order to save on plastic packaging. Pay attention to the note “waxed”.

Is E471 harmful to health?

Like the usual dietary fats or the trendy MCT fats, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids are classified as harmless to health. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) tests additives for their effects on the body and has granted E471 unrestricted approval, which means that there is no recommended maximum quantity. If you don’t want to take the emulsifier, simply use organic products: its use is not permitted here. Anyone who eats an animal-free diet should know that E471 can be vegan, but does not have to be. Although soybean oil is often the starting material for production, beef fat or lard are also used. In the latter case, E471 is also not halal.

Keep an eye on mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

Whether in vegan sweets, convenience products such as mashed potatoes and quick-cooking rice, cream products, bread, or even cosmetics: E471 is widespread. The only way to keep an eye on the amount you consume is to study the list of ingredients carefully. Smartphone apps for reading the barcodes help to keep track. Otherwise, you can of course cook and bake freshly yourself if you want to do without additives such as E471. Many alternatives can be used as binding agents, such as eggs when baking or mustard for vinegar-oil dressings.

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