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Food Chem Toxicol. 1998 Sep-Oct;36(9-10):711-8.

Overview of the preparation, use and biological studies on polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR).

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  • 1Environmental Safety Laboratory, Unilever Research, Sharnbrook, Bedford, UK.


The esterification of condensed castor oil fatty acids with polyglycerol gives a powerful water-in-oil emulsifier which is used by the food industry in tin-greasing emulsions and as an emulsifier with lecithin in chocolate couverture and block chocolate. A safety evaluation programme was undertaken in the late 1950s and early 1960s to determine whether this food emulsifier polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR). (Quest International trade name ADMUL WOL) presented any health implications for consumers. This programme included acute toxicity tests, subacute rat and chicken toxicity studies, a rat chronic toxicity/multigeneration reproduction study, rodent metabolism, carcinogenicity testing in rat and mouse and a human clinical evaluation. PGPR was found to be 98% digested by rats and utilized as a source of energy superior to starch and nearly equivalent to groundnut oil. There was no interference with normal fat metabolism in rats or in the utilization of fat-soluble vitamins. Despite the intimate relationship with fat metabolism, no evidence was found of any adverse effects on such vital processes as growth, reproduction and maintenance of tissue homeostasis. PGPR was not carcinogenic in either 2-year rat or 80-week mouse feeding studies. The human studies showed no adverse effects on tolerance, liver and kidney function, and fat balance at levels up to 10 g/day PGPR. The acceptable daily intake for PGPR which was set by JECFA in 1974 and the EC/SCF in 1979 is 7.5 mg/kg body weight/day. The UK FAC in 1992 estimated that the maximum per capita mean daily intake of PGPR is 2.64 mg/kg body weight/day. It can be concluded that the use of ADMUL WOL brand of PGPR in tin-greasing emulsions or in chocolate couverture does not constitute a human health hazard.

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