What is Polysorbate 40 (E434) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Polysorbate 40 (E434) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Polysorbate 40

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Polysorbate 40 (E434) is an emulsifier that is listed in the food additive code of 1960. It is used as a stabilizing agent, emulsifying agent, flavor enhancer and texturizer in a variety of foods.

Polysorbate 40 is a food stabilizer (emulsifier) that can be used in a variety of food products. It is often used as an emulsifier and gelling agent when making ice cream, candies, baked goods and sauces. The additive ensures smooth texture, taste, aroma and color which makes it attractive for manufacturers. Like any other food additive Polysorbate 40 has some side effects if consumed in high amounts. 

What is polysorbate 40?

Polysorbate 40 is a food additive used as a surfactant and emulsifier. It is typically found in ice cream, baked goods, candy and other foods.

Polysorbate 40 can be used as an emulsifier in foods to keep ingredients from separating, such as keeping oil and water from separating in salad dressings. It also prevents oxidation of oils. This chemical also adds shine to products such as chocolate candy bars because it helps keep the fats smooth instead of crystallizing when they cool down after being melted during processing.

Polysorbate 40 may be made from soybean oil or castor oil (a vegetable-based oil derived from castor beans). When you see the number 40 on a label for this ingredient, it means that there are 40 molecules of polyethoxylated sorbitan esters per 100 grams of total weight of the substance.

What are the uses of polysorbate 40?

Polysorbate 40 is an emulsifier and surfactant used in foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It is a non-ionic surfactant that is derived from sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. Polysorbate 40 is a mixture of polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate.

Polysorbate 40 is used as an emulsifier for creams and lotions to prevent separation of the oil and water phases of the formulation. It is also used as an emulsifier in some mouthwashes and toothpastes, as well as hair conditioners, shampoos, baby products and other personal care products. The ingredient may also be used in foods such as ice cream to prevent the formation of large ice crystals.

In addition to being an emulsifier, polysorbate 40 has been shown to inhibit mast cell degranulation – the release of histamine from mast cells – which makes it useful for treating allergic reactions such as hay fever or asthma attacks.

How is polysorbate 40 made?

The process of making polysorbate 40 starts with the reaction of ethylene oxide with sorbitol. Ethylene oxide is a simple organic compound, which is also used to make other chemicals such as ethylene glycol, a key ingredient in antifreeze. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that can be found in many fruits and berries. The combination of these two chemicals results in the formation of polysorbate 40.

The other ingredients in polysorbate 40 are sodium hydroxide, methanol and water. The sodium hydroxide acts as an acid catalyst for the reaction between ethylene oxide and sorbitol, which produces a byproduct called diethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol is not used in the production of polysorbate 40 because it can cause toxicity in humans when ingested at high doses.

To make polysorbate 40, ethylene oxide (EO) reacts with sorbitol at high temperatures under pressure to form hydrogen atoms on each carbon atom of EO. This reaction yields monoesterification products that are then reacted further into diesterification products by adding more EO molecules to them through another round of reactions at high pressures and temperatures.


Other names Polyoxyethylene sorbitan monopalmitate
Chemical formula C62H122O26
Molecular weight 1284
CAS number 9005-66-7
Appearance A lemon to orange-coloured oily liquid or semi-gel at 25°C  with a faint characteristic odour.

Soluble in water; soluble in ethanol, methanol, ethyl acetate and acetone;

Insoluble in mineral oil

HLB 15.6, gives oil-in-water emulsions, O/W



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There are hydrophilic groups – polyoxyethylene groups – and lipophilic groups – palmitic acid groups in the structure.

What’re the possible side effects of polysorbate 40?

Polysorbate 40 is a nonionic detergent. It is also known as Tween 40, polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate, or Tweens. Polysorbate 40 is a surfactant used to solubilize or disperse oil in water. It has a HLB of around 15, which is medium-sized.

Polysorbate 40 is used as an emulsifier in many food products such as ice cream and baked goods. It is also used in cosmetics and skin care products, as well as some pharmaceuticals, including tablets and eye drops.

polysorbate 40 side effects

  • Allergic reactions. This can range from mild itching and hives to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. This is usually mild to moderate and goes away on its own within a few hours or days. It’s important to watch for symptoms such as abdominal cramping, which may indicate an ulcer developing in the lining of the stomach or esophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach). If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
  • Rash or hives (urticaria). This is usually mild and lasts just a few hours to several days. It can occur at any time during treatment but tends to be more common during the first few weeks of treatment, especially with high doses of medication in children. If you have hives, call your doctor because it could be an allergic reaction that requires emergency care.

Polysorbate 40 is an emulsifier that is used in foods and cosmetics. It is also used in medicine, especially in eye drops and intravenous solutions.

Polysorbate 40 is a food additive that acts as a surfactant and emulsifier. It is used to distribute color evenly throughout food products, such as ice cream, candy or chocolate. It can also be used to make beverages smoother and creamier by preventing fats from separating out of the drink.

It acts as an emulsifier in cosmetics because it helps oil and water mix together, which allows the product to be applied smoothly on the skin. This ingredient is also added to lotions, creams and makeup to help them spread evenly over your face or body.

Polysorbate 40 can be used in medicine as a solvent for drugs like penicillin or insulin, which are normally not water soluble but need to be dissolved before they can be given intravenously (through a vein). This ingredient can also be used as an antifoaming agent in eye drops so that they don’t splash when you blink your eyes after applying them.

Polysorbate 40 is an emulsifier, meaning that it helps two liquids stay mixed together rather than separating back into two distinct liquids. It’s used to help keep the oil and water components of sunscreen mixed together, which makes it easier to apply on skin.

As with many products, polysorbate 40 has been scrutinized by the FDA in regard to its safety. The concern lies in the fact that this compound has a history of being linked to cancer in lab rats. However, the FDA has reviewed these studies and determined that they are not relevant in terms of human health and safety. Polysorbate 40 is considered safe for use in sunscreen and other cosmetics, as well as in food products and medications.

Where to buy polysorbate 40?

Polysorbate 40 is a common emulsifier used in food and cosmetics. It’s also known as Tweens, Tween 40, or PEG-40 sorbitan monostearate. You can buy it from chemical suppliers or from Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Polysorbate 40 Natural?

 Polysorbate 40 is a synthetic emulsifier, meaning it’s not a natural compound. It’s derived from ethylene oxide and sorbitol, which are both man-made.

Is Polysorbate 40 Halal?

Polysorbate 40 is not considered halal. It is a surfactant and emulsifier that helps mix oil and water. It is made from polyethoxylates, which are ethoxylated fatty alcohols derived from animal fats. These polyethoxylates are also used in shampoos, body washes and toothpastes.

Is Polysorbate 40 Kosher?

Polysorbate 40 is a kosher emulsifier used in baked goods, ice cream, and candy. It is also found in some personal care products.

Polysorbate 40 is made from vegetable oil byproducts and has a slightly nutty taste. It is often used to dissolve ingredients that are difficult to mix together, such as oils and water or oil-based liquids such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil.

Is Polysorbate 40 Vegan?

Polysorbate 40 is an emulsifier, surfactant and wetting agent that is used in a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products. It is made from ethylene oxide and propylene glycol.

Polysorbate 40 is not a vegan ingredient because it’s made from lard (pig fat). However, some companies have developed vegan versions of this emulsifier that do not contain lard or any other animal products.

Is Polysorbate 40 Gluten Free?

Polysorbate 40 is considered gluten-free by the FDA because it contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. That’s less than 1/10th of a part per million—so it should be safe for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities.


Polysorbate 40 is an emulsifier found in a variety of foods. It is used to form emulsions and stabilize blends of liquids. It serves as the emulsifier and helps keep fats, oil, water and other liquids blended together. It’s also used to enhance protein solubility, prevent freezing and melt-point depression. 

Although it hasn’t been shown to cause any health problems if consumed in food, it’s not known how Polysorbate 40 might affect your body when used topically on the skin or when taken orally in medicine.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

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