Kinds of Food Emulsifiers

Only food emulsifiers defined as food additives are usable by law. Those emulsifiers are shown in the table.The following emulsifiers have been used ordinarily:

Name Common Name
Glycerin Fatty Acid Esters Monoglyceride (MG)
Acetic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides Acetylated Monoglyceride (AMG)
Lactic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides Lactylated Monoglyceride (LMG)
Citric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides CMG
Succinic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides SMG
Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides DATEM
Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids PolyGlycerol Ester (PGE)
Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate PGPR
Sorbitan Esters of Fatty Acids Sorbitan Ester (SOE)
Propylene Glycol Esters of Fatty Acids PG Ester (PGME)
Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids Sugar Ester (SE)
Calcium Stearoyl Di Lactate CSL
Lecithin Lecithin (LC)
Enzyme Digested Lecithin / Enzyme Treated Lecithin

Glycerine Fatty Acid Esters (Monoglyceride, MG)

Glycerin fatty acid ester is made from glycerin and animal and plant oils/fats or their fatty acids. Those are generally produced by inter-esterification method.
Glycerin has three hydroxyl groups, one of which is esterified with a fatty acid and the ester is called monoglyceride.
Di-and tri-glyceride have two and three fatty acid groups esterified at hydroxyl group, respectively.


Glycerin fatty acid ester produced by inter-esterification is a mixture of glycerin and these glycerides.
Since monoglyceride with a strong surface activity is suitable as an emulsifier, mono & di-glyceride is produced by removing the glycerin from the mixture.


Furthermore, to enhance functionality, a highly-purified monoglyceride, called Distilled Monoglyceride, is produced by molecular distillation.

Monoglycerides have various characteristics depending on the kind and the content of the fatty acid used as the raw material. They are applied to much different fields; an emulsifier, foaming agent, anti-foaming agent, anti-tack agent, starch-modifying agent and anti-bacterial agent, so you need to select the most appropriate type for respective purposes.

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Acetic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides(Acetylated Monoglyceride, AMG)

Acetic acid esters of monoglyceride called acetylated monoglyceride is an emulsifier in which acetic acid is bound with monoglyceride. It has little emulsifying activity but there are many characteristics and application fields as follows:

  • Soft acetylated monoglyceride is able to expand by more than 8 times with tension.
  • It is an extremely stable oil of which peroxide value does not increase even when heated at 97.7 °C for 1000 hours.
  • It is a liquid characterized by being less oily even at low temperatures and available as a solvent, lubricant, plasticizer for vinylacetate, etc.
  • Although it has no function as an emulsifier, it is usable for foaming fats and oils by itself or in combination with other emulsifiers because of its stable alpha-crystal structure.

Practically, it is used as powdered foaming agents, solvents, plasticizers for gums and coating agents for food.

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Lactic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (Lactyated Monoglyceride, LMG)

Lactic acid esters of monoglyceride is called lactylated monoglyceride in which lactic acid is bound with monoglyceride. Its foaming ability is stronger than its emulsifying ability. It is used in shortening for cakes, desserts and foaming for cream by itself or in combination with monoglyceride.

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Citric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (CMG)

Citric acid esters of monoglyceride is called citrated monoglyceride, in which citric acid is bound with monoglyceride and the obtainable products are mixtures containing a few monoglycerides.
It is a highly hydrophilic emulsifier and a stable alpha-crystal structure used for margarine, dairy products such as coffee whitener and cream. Its also used as an emulsion stabilizer for mayonnaise and dressing by utilizing its strong acid-resistance.

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Succinic Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (SMG)

Succinic Acid ester of monoglyceride is called succinylated monoglyceride, in which succinic acid is bound with monoglyceride. It is insoluble in cold water, dispersible in hot water, and soluble in hot alcohol, fats and oils.
Succinylated monoglyceride forms a complex with starch which is able to react with protein. It is used as a dough modifying agent and an emulsifier for shortening.

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Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (DATEM)

Diacetyl tartaric acid ester of monoglyceride is called DATEM, an emulsifier in which diacetyl tartaric acid is bound with monoglyceride. It is dispersible in cold and hot water, and soluble in fats and oils.
As it is a hydrophilic emulsifier and acid resistant, it is used for emulsification and foaming of margarine, mayonnaise and dressing. Also, it can act on starch and protein, thus it is used as a dough conditioner.

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Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids (PGE)

Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids is called polyglyceryl ester, an emulsifier in which fatty acid is bound by esterification with polyglycerine, and generally it is dispersible in water and soluble in oil.
Its hydrophilicity and lipophilicity greatly change with the degree of its polymerization and the kind of fatty acid. Its HLB ranges from 3 to 13.
It has a variety of functions depending on these conditions, and is usable for various purposes. It is used in many types of food as an O/W and W/O emulsifier for milk products containing acid and salt and a modifier to control the crystallization of fats.

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Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR)

Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate is called PGPR, which is a strong lipophilic W/O emulsifier.
It is a highly-viscous liquid, insoluble in water and ethanol, and soluble in fats and oils. It is used as a viscosity-reducing agent for chocolate.


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Sorbitan Esters of Fatty Acids (Sorbitan Ester)

Sorbitan esters of fatty acid is called sorbitan ester, which is produced by esterification of sorbitol and fatty acid. It is a mixture of sorbitol ester and sorbide ester, which are simultaneously produced as well as sorbitan ester.

There are many types of sorbitan esters with different kinds of fatty acids and various degrees of esterification. Those are generally used as emulsifier for cream etc. It is applied in limited fields by itself because its special characteristics other than emulsifying capability are few; however, it is widely used as a major emulsifier in combination with other emulsifiers with different functions.

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Propylene Glycol Esters of Fatty Acids (PG Ester)

Propylene glycol esters of fatty acids called PG ester are composed of propylene glycol and fatty acids linked by ester bonding, and a substance produced from inter-esterification is a mixture of monoester and diester.
To isolate the monoester with surface effects, high purity product of monoester is yielded by molecular distillation as well as distilled monoglyceride. It does not act as emulsifier much but tends to keep its alpha-crystal structure.

Since it is usable as a foaming agent when combined with monoglyceride, it is used as a powder-foaming agent for cakes and desserts, liquid shortening, etc.


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Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids (Sucrose Ester)

Sucrose esters of fatty acid is called sucrose ester. It is a complex of sucrose and fatty acid, which has HLB ranging from 1 to 16.

Owing to the wide ranging HLB, it has many different functions. It is used as an emulsifying and dispersing agent for cream and bacteriocidal agents for canned coffee.

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Calcium Stearoyl-2-Lactate (CSL)

Calcium stearoyl 2 lactate is called CSL. It is a product obtained by bonding 2 lactic acids and stearic acid and partially neutralized with calcium. It is a mixture including unreacted stearic acid and salt.
It is an anionic emulsifier having a strong ability to bind protein and is used as a dough conditioner for flour foods like bread.

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Lecithin (LC)

Lecithin is a mixture containing phospholipid as the major component and widely found in animals and plants. It has long been used as a natural emulsifier.
Lecithin is classified into

  • plant lecithin derived from soybeans, corn, rapeseed, etc.
  • fractionated lecithin isolated from special components of the raw materials
  • yolk lecithin made by excluding the phospholipid, which occupies about 30% of an egg yolk

The products in the market are paste lecithin and powdered lecithin of high purity.

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Enzyme Treated Lecithin / Enzyme Digested Lecithin (LC)

Enzyme-digested or enzyme-treated lecithin is improved through strengthening the hydrophilicity by a treatment with phospholipase.


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