The Food Additive Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (E-476): Structure, Applications, and Production Methods




The food additive named polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) and identified with the code E-476 (PGPR) is used as emulsifier in tin-greasing emulsions for the baking trade and for the production of low-fat spreads. However, the main application of PGPR is in the chocolate industry, where, besides its action as an emulsifier, it also has important properties as a viscosity modifier and thus improves the moulding properties of the molten chocolate. An additional property of PGPR in chocolate is its ability to limit fat bloom. Known chemical methods for preparing this emulsifier involve long reaction times and high operating temperatures, which adversely affect the quality of the final product leading to problems of coloration and odors that could make it inadvisable for the food industry. As an alternative, the enzymatic synthesis of PGPR by the catalytic action of two lipases has been developed. The enzymes act in mild reaction conditions of temperature and pressure, neutral pH, and in a solvent-free system, which makes the process environmentally friendly and avoids side reaction, so that the product has a higher purity and quality.

1. Food Additives

Food additives have been developed over the years to meet the needs of food production, as making foods on a large scale is a very different task to making them in the kitchen at home. Additives are needed to ensure processed food remains in a good condition throughout its journey from the factory to the shop and to the consumer at home. Some are so essential that they are even used in organic foods [13].

In the broadest of terms, food additives are substances intentionally added to food either directly or indirectly with one or more of the following purposes [4]:(1)to maintain or improve nutritional quality;(2)to maintain product quality and freshness;(3)to aid in the processing or preparation of food;(4)to make food more appealing.

On the other hand, food additives may only be authorized if [4](1)there is a technological need for their use;(2)they do not mislead the consumer;(3)they present no hazard to the health of the consumer.

The use of food additives must always be labelled on the packaging of food products by their category (antioxidant, preservative, colour, etc.) with either their name or E number. In the United States, food additives are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Two sections of the regulations govern their use: substances affirmed as GRAS, that is, Generally Recognized as Safe, (21CFR184) and Direct Food Additives (21CFR172). Substances that have been affirmed as GRAS usually have less stringent regulations attached to their use. However, Food and Drug Administration Standards of Identity may preclude their use in certain standardized foods. In comparison, Direct Food Additives may be allowed only in certain specific foods at low maximum allowable levels. The method of manufacture and analytical constants may also be defined.

The European Community (EC) regulates food emulsifiers in an analogous fashion to United States regulations, identifying the additives with E numbers. Specific regulations, however, must be consulted before food products are designed for international markets. For example, polyglycerol esters up to a degree of polymerization of 10 are widely accepted in the United States. For the EC, this value may not exceed 4. Standards of Identity may also differ significantly. Other countries, which have not formed trading communities, may have regulations, which are unique [57].

The food additive functional classes are based on the Codex Class Names and the International Numbering System (INS) for Food Additives (CAC/GL 36-1989). There are four general categories of food additives: nutritional additives, processing agents, preservatives, and sensory agents. These are not strict classifications, as many additives fall into more than one category [8].(1) Nutritional additives. They are utilized for the purpose of restoring nutrients lost or degraded during production, fortifying or enriching certain foods in order to correct dietary deficiencies or adding nutrients to food substitutes.(2) Processing agents. These additives are added to foods in order to aid in processing or to maintain the desired consistency of the product.(3) Preservatives. They are classified into two main groups: antioxidants (compounds that delay or prevent the deterioration of foods by oxidative mechanisms) and antimicrobials (inhibit the growth of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms in food).(4) Sensory agents. Such as colorants (natural or synthetics), flavorings, and sweeteners.

Copyright © 2013 Josefa Bastida-Rodríguez. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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