Sorbitol (i) Sorbitol (ii) Sorbitol syrup

 (i) Sorbitol is a polyhydric alcohol, commercially produced from glucose by high-pressure hydrogenation or electrolytic reduction but widely distributed in nature. First discovered in the ripe fruits of Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) and now detected in the fruits of other members of the same family (Rosaceae), notably in cherries, pears, plums and apples and also in seaweeds and other algae.

(ii) Sorbitol syrup is an aqueous solution of sorbitol and hydrogenated oligosaccharides.

Sorbitol is converted to sugar in the bloodstream, but as it is only absorbed slowly not requiring insulin, it is a useful source of sugar for diabetics.

Used as a sweetening agent and substitute for glycerol (E422). Sorbitol also masks the bitter after taste of saccharin in drinks and helps to maintain the physical texture of chewy sweets. Also used as a humectant to preserve moisture, colour dilutent, stabiliser and texturiser. Extends the shelf life of syrups containing sucrose as it reduces the tendency to deposit crystals on storage

Found in chocolates, diabetic soft drinks, ice cream, diabetic jams, pastries and cakes, raisins and sweets.

Large amounts can cause flatulence and can have a laxative effect.

It is not allowed in foods intended specifically for babies or young children.


 A clear, colourless, sweet-tasting viscous liquid belonging to the polyhydric alcohol family of organic compounds, occurring naturally in all animal and plant cells, normally as a component of more complex structures, rarely in its free state.

Since Carl W. Scheele, a Swedish chemist, discovered in 1779 that glycerol could be obtained from olive oil by heating it with lead monoxide it has found thousands of uses covering almost every industry.

Whether it be synthetic resins or gums, including vehicle enamels and house paints, drugs, serums, vaccines, suppositories, skin lotions, mouthwashes, cough medicines, cosmetics, toothpaste or reacted with nitric and sulphuric acid to form the explosive nitro-glycerine, glycerol is there.

Until methanol and ethylene glycol replaced it, it was the 'anti-freeze' for vehicle radiators.

Apart from being a food grade lubricant for machinery its food uses include; being a solvent for oily chemicals, particularly flavourings; a humectant where its hygroscopic properties help keep food moist and extends shelf-life; controlling the rate of crystallisation in sweets; adding body to a product; and, as a legacy from its anti-freeze days, lowering the freezing point of soft ice creams.

Vegetarians should note that although industrial manufacturing based on propylene or sugar accounts for a large percentage of glycerol production it can be obtained as a by-product in making soap from animal and vegetable fats and oils.

NB. the term glycerine is normally applied to commercial products containing more than 95 percent glycerol.

Polyoxyethylene (8) stearate

 A mixture of stearate and ethylene oxide.

Some people with allergic skin reaction may be allergic to this additive and there are suggestions that it may be involved in the formation of kidney stones.

Found in bakery items.

Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate

 A mixture of stearate and ethylene oxide, in the form of a waxy solid, produced by a reaction of ethylene oxide with stearic acid (E570).

Tests with Vitamin A deficient, undernourished, rats have shown a cancer hazard but this result was not repeated in normal, well fed rats.

Found in bread, where it adds a 'fresh feel'. May also be found in some wines.

Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate (polysorbate 20)

  Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate (polysorbate 80)

 Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monopalmitate (polysorbate 40)

 Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate (polysorbate 60)

 Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan tristearate (polysorbate 65)

 Vegetarians beware - can be of animal origin.

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