What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate E481 in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate E481 in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (E481)

Table of Contents

Sodium stearoyl lactylate, more commonly referred to as E481, is a type of food additive that is typically found in baked goods, puddings and frostings, bars, candies, ice cream and many other processed foods. The primary purpose of this compound is to decrease the amount of needed fat and eggs. Although it does help to bind moisture, this additive does contribute to a lot of controversy still today about health risks.

This article will discuss Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (C-16H33NaO2S) in food, what it is, and why it is used. It will also shed light on its uses and safety. In addition, the article will explore some of the side effects related to this product, as well as its presence in other products outside of food.

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate?


Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL) is a food additive made from the combination of sodium and stearic acid with lactic acid. The combination produces a white, free flowing powder that is used as an emulsifier in many foods. It’s also used to create creamy texture in baked goods.

The FDA has approved SSL as safe for consumption up to 0.5% by weight in foods.

Where is the Origin of Sodium Stearoyl Lactate?


Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL), also known as sodium lauroyl lactylate and lactic acid ester of stearic acid, is a food additive used as a dough conditioner. It improves the quality of baked goods by increasing volume and reducing stickiness. SSL is used in commercial preparations of baked goods such as breads, cakes, waffles and tortillas.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Origin

The origin of SSL is in its name: it is derived from vegetable oils and animal fats or tallow. The sodium salt of SSL can be prepared from anhydrous lactic acid esterified with stearic acid.

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Used for?


Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) is an emulsifier and surfactant. It is a commonly used ingredient in food, cosmetics, and personal care products.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate in Food


SSL is often used in baked goods (such as cakes, cookies and breads) to improve texture, extend shelf life, prevent staling and provide viscosity to the food product. It is often used in conjunction with other emulsifiers such as mono- and diglycerides, lecithin and polysorbates. It is also used in non-baked foods such as ice cream, dairy products like yogurt and cheeses, pickles, peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise and salad dressing.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate in Bread


SSL is used as an emulsifier in bread, cakes and other food products. Emulsifiers are substances that help stabilize the interface between two liquids that do not mix well together, such as oil and water. This prevents the separation of these two liquids.

There are other foods that may contain SSL:


  • Whipped toppings, desserts (an aerating agent)
  • Non-dairy coffee creamers (a complexing agent stable the emulsion)
  • Whitening powder ( a fat replacer)
  • Spreads

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate in Skin Care


Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a moisturizing agent that can be used for skin care. It is a powdery substance that has the ability to retain moisture in the skin. It also has an emulsifying effect, which means it can help keep oil and water from separating.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate in Cosmetics


SSL is also used as an emulsifier for cosmetics such as shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and skin cream. In addition to its emulsifying properties, it also has antibacterial properties that help prevent acne breakouts on your face or back!

How is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Made?


Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) is an organic compound which is the sodium salt of stearoyl lactylic acid. SSL is a modified form of stearic acid and it’s a surfactant that plays an important role in food manufacturing.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) is manufactured by esterification of stearic acid with lactic acid. The reaction produces a mixture of monoesters, diesters and triesters. This mixture is called a “crude” SSL. The crude SSL then undergoes further processing to remove impurities and excess water through distillation or crystallization. The resulting product can be sold as such or further purified by recrystallization or distillation before being sold on the market as pure SSL powder or granules.

The EFSA reports neutralization first, followed by esterification afterwards. In brief, the manufacturing process is as follows:

  • Mixture: The mixture of lactic acid and sodium hydroxide is allowed to stand for a few minutes until the temperature decreases, then it is heated to about 100°C (212°F) to dissolve the sodium hydroxide. The mixture is cooled to below 40°C (104°F) before adding the oil or fat in which case they are mixed together thoroughly at room temperature.
  • Neutralization: The neutralization reaction occurs when the free fatty acid reacts with an alkaline solution, such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. The fatty acids react with the alkali to form salts and water. This process causes a change in pH from acidic to basic (alkaline).
  • Esterification: In this stage, the fatty acids react with lactic acid to make esters by breaking down the bonds in the molecule. The resulting product is an esterified compound that has both the hydroxyl group from lactic acid and an ester group from fatty acids attached to it.

As SSL is hygroscopic, it will become sticky when exposed to moist air. Sometimes SSL powder is blended with an anti-caking agent (e.g. calcium carbonate) to make it less sticky and free-flowing.

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Made of?

Because SSL is a mixture, impurities are either brought into it from raw materials or generated during the production process.

The three major components of it are as follows:

  • Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate
  • Sodium stearoyl-1-lactylate
  • Sodium palmitoyl-1-lactylate (comes from the reaction of palmitic acid, lactic acid, sodium hydroxide. Communally, commercial stearic acid from vegetable oils contains palmitic acid.

As a result, the SSL structure can be described as follows:


Image Source

It is also possible for SSL to contain the following impurities:

  • Palmitoyl lactylic acid
  • Stearoyl lactylic acid
  • Free fatty acids (palmitic acid, stearic acid)
  • Free lactic acid
  • Salts of fatty acid esters of lactic acid
  • Salts of fatty acid esters of polymerized lactic acid



Other Names
  • Sodium stearoyl lactate
  • Sodium di-2-stearoyl lactate
CAS Number25383-99-7
Chemical formulaC24H43NaO6
Molecular Weight450.592
Melting Point49 °C (120 °F; 322 K)




White or slightly yellowish waxy powder or brittle solid (flake) with a slightly acidic smell.



  • Lipophilic group: the long-chain stearoyl group
  • Hydrophilic group: the carbonium ion of lactic acid


10-12, This compound gives oil-in-water emulsions, O/W, and also functions as a humectant.


In water


Insoluble in water, dispersible in hot water. As a hydrophilic emulsifier, SSL has poor water solubility at low temperatures, so heat treatment of water is required before use.

In organic solvents


Soluble in ethanol, hot edible oils, fats.

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Safe to Eat?

In terms of safety, it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).



According to the FDA, SSL is a direct multifunctional food additive and is approved for use as an emulsifier, stabilizer and surface-active agent in the following food categories:

  • Baked products, pancakes, waffles 0.5%
  • Icings, fillings, puddings, toppings 0.2%
  • Beverage coffee as substitutes for milk/cream 0.3%
  • Dehydrated potatoes 0.5%
  • Snack dips 0.2%
  • Cheese substitutes and imitations 0.2%
  • Sauces or gravies 0.25%
  • Cream liqueur drinks 0.5%



Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 lists sodium stearoyl lactylate (E481) as an authorised food additive and categorizes it under “Additives other than colours and sweeteners”.

Approved uses

As with calcium stearoyl lactylate (E482), it is permitted at maximum levels (MPLs) of 1000 to 10000 mg/kg in foods. Among the foods that may contain it are:

  • Flavoured fermented milk products
  • Beverage whiteners
  • Fat and oil emulsions
  • Mostarda difrutta
  • Sugar confectionery
  • Chewing gum
  • Desserts, decorations, coatings and fillings
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Quick-cook rice
  • Bread and rolls
  • Fine bakery wares
  • Minced, diced canned meat products

Safety re-evaluation in 2013

As a result of studies looking at reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, and others, the EFSA established an ADI of 22 mg/kg bw/day for sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (E481) by itself or in combination with calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate (E482).

UK Food Standards Agency

In the “Others” category

Food Standards Australia New Zealand


A code number 481 identifies it as an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand.


Function Class: food additives, emulsifier and stabilizer.

Acceptable daily intake: The ADI “20 mg/kg BW” was set in 1973.

What are the Benefits of Sodium Stearoyl Lactate Emulsifier?


Sodium stearoyl lactate Emulsifier, also known as SLS or sodium stearoyl lactylate, is a food and cosmetic additive that is used as an emulsifier for fat-in-water emulsions. It is commonly found in baked goods, syrups, ice cream, margarine and canned meats.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is an effective moisture barrier and oil seperator in many food products. It helps prevent oil separation from the water phase in an emulsion by combining with the oil droplets to form a larger particle size. This allows for better stabilization of the product during storage through reduced evaporation of the water phase due to its increased size and viscosity properties.

What are the Side Effects of Sodium Stearoyl Lactate?


Side effects of sodium stearoyl lactate are rare and only occur in a small percentage of people. The most common sodium stearoyl lactylat side effects include:

  • Diarrhea. Diarrhea is the most common side effect of sodium stearoyl lactate. It occurs in between 5% and 10% of people who take this drug. Diarrhea may be more common if you have a history of diarrhea or if you have recently taken antibiotics. Diarrhea can be mild and self-limiting, or it can be severe enough to lead to dehydration and other issues.
  • Constipation. Constipation is less common than diarrhea with sodium stearoyl lactate, but occurs in about 1% of people who take this drug. If you experience constipation, it may be helpful to increase fiber intake or drink more water throughout the day.
  • Headaches. Headaches are another possible side effect of sodium stearoyl lactate that occurs less often than diarrhea or constipation (about 1% of people). Headaches can sometimes be relieved by taking aspirin or ibuprofen before meals.

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Bad for you?


Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a food additive that is used to improve the texture of baked goods. It is also used as an emulsifier and as a leavening agent. Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a combination of sodium, stearic acid and lactic acid.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate has been shown to be safe for consumption by humans in the amounts found in foods. It has also been approved for use in the European Union (EU) and in Canada.

It’s important to note that sodium stearoyl lactylate may not be suitable for people with certain allergies or sensitivities. Some people may experience allergic reactions when they consume this additive.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Allergy Symptoms

Sodium stearoyl lactylate allergy symptoms include hives, itching, swelling of the face or lips, difficulty breathing and chest tightness. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming sodium stearoyl lactylate, contact your doctor immediately.

Different Between Glycerol Monostearate (GMS) and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate

Glycerol monostearate (GMS) and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate are both emulsifiers that are used in food products and pharmaceuticals. Both GMS and SLS have similar functions, but they have different chemical and physical properties.

Glycerol monostearate is a white powder with a neutral taste. It is made from the reaction between glycerin and stearic acid, which is found in animal fats. This compound has a long shelf life, so it can be used for an extended period of time without losing its effectiveness. It also has good water solubility, which means it dissolves easily in water-based solutions such as fruit juices or cream-based sauces.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a white powder with a slightly salty taste. It is made from the reaction between lactic acid and stearic acid, which is found in animal fats. This compound can also be used for an extended period of time without losing its effectiveness because it has good water solubility like GMS does.

Where to Buy Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate?

Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) is a food additive used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in baked goods, dairy products, meat products and some beverages. It is also used as a pharmaceutical excipient in tablets.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate can be purchased from a number of chemical suppliers. Most companies will sell small quantities at relatively low prices. There are also numerous online stores that sell SSL in bulk quantities, although they may charge higher prices than chemical suppliers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Dairy Origin?

No, sodium stearoyl lactylate is a milk derivative that is used as an emulsifier in many food products. It is often used in baked goods, dairy products, and other foods. It can be found in everything from bread to ice cream to salad dressing.

The term “dairy” can be confusing because it does not always mean that the product contains milk or milk products. This can lead some people to believe that sodium stearoyl lactylate has dairy origins when it may actually be plant-derived.

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Vegan?

Yes, sodium stearoyl lactylate is a food additive that helps baked goods retain moisture and softness. It’s often used in bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, pies and other baked goods.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is made from combining lactic acid (a byproduct of cheese production) with stearic acid (a fatty acid found in animal fats). It’s commonly used as a replacement for animal-based ingredients such as eggs, butter or milk in baking. This makes it a vegan-friendly ingredient.

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Natural?

No, sodium stearoyl lactylate is a chemical compound that is created by the reaction of lactic acid and stearic acid. It is a common ingredient in baked goods, and it also helps to increase the shelf life of products like frozen meals.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is often confused with natural ingredients, such as milk or eggs, but it is actually a synthetic substance created in laboratories.

Is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Halal?

Yes, sodium stearoyl lactylate is a common food additive used as a dough conditioner. It is found in bread, cakes, and other baked goods.

The primary concern regarding the ingredient is the lactic acid produced by fermentation of whey and other dairy products. While this lactic acid can be halal, it’s not always clear whether or not it is. The best way to avoid this concern is to buy products that clearly state “Halal” on the label.



It is almost impossible to avoid the additive E481. It is present in so many products, and is often categorized as a controversial ingredient because it is “generally regarded as safe.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not potentially harmful though, or even dangerous. It is up to us to decide whether or not we want to consume this additive, and it’s for us to decide whether or not E481 actually makes our food taste and look better.

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 .

Recent Post:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One professional food chemical manufacturing company in China, we can supply different types of food additives, flavors fragrances, feed additives, food ingredients, and custom chemicals, etc

Fill out the form and our sales team will contact you with our best prices.

Scroll to Top

Ask for Quick Quote

We will contact you within 1 working day, please pay attention to the email.