What is Sorbitol E420? Uses, Types, Safe and Side Effects

What is Sorbitol E420? Uses, Types, Safe and Side Effects


Table of Contents

Sorbitol (E420) is a sugar alcohol (polyol or polyalcohol) that has been widely used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Sorbitol has the E number E420. It is also known as glucitol and hydrogenated glucose syrup. The polymer consists of two monomer glucose molecules linked together.

Sorbitol, also known as glucitol or acesulfame K and is primarily used as a sugar substitute and sweetener. It occurs naturally in some plant tissues, fruits, berries, and vegetables. Sorbitol is often used in combination with other artificial sweeteners as intense sweeteners. Sorbitol can be found in baked goods and chewing gums as a substitute for corn syrup; it provides the same bulk but has about half the calories.

What is sorbitol?


Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) that is often used as a food additive. Like other polyols, it has a sweetening power that is 60–70% of the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar). It can also be found in nature in some fruits and vegetables, but it is usually made synthetically or obtained from plant materials such as corn or wheat.

Sorbitol is produced by the hydrogenation of glucose derived from corn syrup. This process is similar to how high fructose corn syrup is made; however, sorbitol does not contain any fructose. It is often used as a replacement for glycerine; however, unlike glycerine, sorbitol does not have any medicinal qualities and does not act as an antidote for many poisons.

Sorbitol has been used as an artificial sweetener in chewing gums and candies since the 1970s because it has fewer calories than sugar (about 2.6 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for sugar). It also acts as an emulsifier and thickener in products like ice cream and toothpaste.

What is sorbitol used for?


Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in many foods, including chewing gum and baked goods.

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in some fruits and vegetables. It can be derived from corn, wheat, potatoes, or beets. Sorbitol is often used in place of other sweeteners because it has fewer calories than sucrose (table sugar), although it may cause gastrointestinal side effects if consumed in large amounts.

Sorbitol can be used as a laxative to relieve constipation. However, this effect may take up to 12 hours to occur and will only last for about 4 hours after taking sorbitol.

Sorbitol can also be used as a thickening agent in foods and cosmetics.

Two types in the market


In addition to crystalline (commonly powder), it is also available in solution form (commonly sorbitol 70 solutions).

Natural sources


There are many fruits that contain sorbitol, such as berries, apples, prunes, and apricots.

Is it sugar or reducing sugar?


There are no aldehyde groups (-CHO) on it, meaning it is neither a sugar nor a reducing sugar because it has been reduced to hydroxyl groups (-CH2OH).

The difference between sorbitol with alcohol


Sugar alcohol is a substance that is composed of sugar and alcohol. It includes xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt, lactitol, and erythritol.

Sugar and alcohol share a similar chemical structure.

Sugar alcohols may be confused with sugar and alcohol, but they do not contain sugar or ethanol.

What is sorbitol made of?


Sorbitol is made by taking corn syrup, which is a mixture of glucose and fructose, and adding hydrogen chloride gas to it. This creates a reaction that results in the creation of sorbitol. The process was invented by German chemists in the late 1800s and refined during World War II for use as a sweetener for soldiers’ rations. Today it is commonly used as an artificial sweetener because it has fewer calories than sugar.

What is sorbitol made from?


Sorbitol can be produced from natural sources, such as fruits and berries, but it is most often made from corn syrup. The process involves combining glucose with hydrogen chloride gas to form sorbitol. The resulting mixture is then purified and crystallized into a white powder form.

How is sorbitol made?


Commercially, it is produced by reducing glucose (or hydrogenating it). Hydroxyl groups are formed after hydrogenation reduction of aldehyde groups in glucose.

A brief summary of the manufacturing process is as follows: glucose is produced by fully breaking down starch.

Afterward, hydrogen is added to glucose to convert it to sorbitol with the help of a metal catalyst.

The health benefits of sorbitol


The health benefits of sorbitol include that it’s a natural sweetener, it can be used as an oral laxative and it can benefit people with diabetes. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in many fruits and berries. It has no calories, but it does have a high glycemic index, so it can raise blood sugar levels when consumed in large amounts.

Sorbitol has laxative properties that make it useful for treating constipation. It works by drawing water into the bowels so they’re softer and easier to move through. This action also helps prevent diarrhea because hard stools are easier to pass than soft ones.

Sorbitol can also help lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes . This effect may be due to its ability to slow down the absorption and digestion of carbohydrates from meals or snacks.

Blood Glucose


A small and insignificant increase in blood glucose concentration is caused by sorbitol because it is slowly absorbed. As a result, diabetic food can be sweetened with it.

Oral health


Sugar alcohol is a non-cariogenic carbohydrate sweetener that does not promote dental caries and can be substituted for sucrose or corn syrup in chewing gum and confections.

When bacteria in the mouth metabolize sugar alcohols, they produce less acid than when they metabolize sucrose and other fermentable carbohydrates. Dental plaque is formed by acid, which leads to tooth decay.

This type of food does not cause tooth enamel to lose important minerals and does not promote dental caries.


Other Names 
CAS Number50-70-4
Chemical formulaC6H14O6
Molecular Weight182.17
Melting point88 to 102 °C





Generally, solids are in the form of powders, flakes, or granules that are white and hygroscopic. Colorless and clear aqueous solution.



Approximately 60% sweeter than table sugar, with a pleasant taste and cool effect.

Glycemic Index


The glycemic index of this food is 9. This means that it raises blood sugar but is very mild compared to sugar, so it is safe for diabetics.



As it provides 2.6 kcal/g of caloric value, it is a nutritive sweetener. By comparison, carbohydrate (not polyols) provides 4 kcal/g of caloric value. This can be used in weight loss products, for example, in order to reduce calories.



Ethanol is slightly soluble in water but very soluble in water.





What is the application of sorbitol?


Among other uses, sorbitol is commonly used as a sugar substitute in candies, chewing gum, gummies, and mints. Additionally, it serves as a moisturizer for baked goods that are susceptible to drying out or hardening during storage.

By trapping water, toothpaste is prevented from losing water.

Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics also use it.





Using an ingredient that absorbs some air moisture can be considered a humectant. Due to its polyhydroxy structure, sorbitol can combine with water and maintain moisture, control crystallization, and improve food softness.

As well as increasing volume, controlling viscosity, and controlling texture, it also works as a thickener. The substance is commonly used in bread and cakes as a humectant.



Sorbitol is commonly found in candy and gum as a sweetener that replaces sugar. It is usually combined with fructose.



It is used in seafood as a cryoprotectant and humectant. By chelating metal ions, sorbitol reduces turbidity in beverages. The following additives can also be manufactured using it as a raw material:

  1. The vitamin C
  2. The polydextrose
  3. Food emulsifiers such as sorbitol esters (E491, E492, E493, and E494).
  4. The polysorbates (E432, E433, E434, E435, E436) are food emulsifiers derived from sorbitan (dehydration of sorbitol) and ethylene oxide. Cake, ice cream, and soy milk can also benefit from it because it prevents starch retrogradation and improves processing.



According to the European Commission’s database on cosmetic ingredients, it acts as an absorbent, binder, emulsion stabilizer, film form, hair conditioner, and skin conditioner. It is commonly found in soaps, skin care products, and hair care products.



In toothpaste and mouthwashes, it functions as a moistener, plasticizer, and vicious squeeze carrier. As a humectant, it also imparts a cool, fragrant taste and clarifies better than glycerol.



Powder, premixes, granular, tablets, and syrup formulations can use as a filler, binder, plasticizer, or bulk sweetener to mask the bitter taste.

Is sorbitol safe to eat for the body?


Yes, it is safe for use as a food additive as approved by the FDA, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives, among others.



In food, it can be used as a humectant, nutritive sweetener, sequestrant, stabilizer, and texturizer. The product is generally considered safe (GRAS).

The following food categories are approved for maximum usage:

  • Cough drops and hard candy: 99%
  • Candy that is soft: 98%
  • 75% of chewing gum
  • The percentage of nonstandardized jams, jellies, baked goods, and baking mixes is 30%.
  • Desserts and mixes made from frozen dairy: 17%
  • 12 % of other foods



According to Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012, sorbitol E420(i) and sorbitol syrup E420(ii) are authorized food additives.

Authorised Uses And Use Levels


The majority of its applications are listed under Group I, utilizing the term “quantum satisfaction”. All food additives and nutrients can also be carried by it for purposes other than sweetening.

UK Food Standards Agency


In the “Sweeteners” category

Food Standards Australia New Zealand


The code number 420 is used in Australia and New Zealand.


Functional Class: Humectants, sweeteners, stabilizers, texturizers, sequestrants, thickeners.

Acceptable daily intake: “ADI not specific” was established in 1982, and sorbitol syrup does not require a separate evaluation and ADI setting for 2018.

Is sorbitol safe for pets?


Sorbitol is generally considered safe for humans, but it can cause intestinal problems in dogs and cats. If your dog or cat eats something containing sorbitol, he could develop gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating. In severe cases, these symptoms can lead to dehydration and even death if they’re not treated promptly with veterinary care.

The amount of sorbitol that can cause problems varies depending on the size of your pet, but as a general rule cats are more sensitive to the effects than dogs are. Fruits high in sorbitol include apples, pears, peaches, and prunes; vegetables high in sorbitol include carrots and beets; grains high in sorbitol include wheat bran and oat bran; candy high in sorbitol include gummy bears; toothpaste high in sorbitol include some children’s brands.

Sorbitol metabolism


Due to the reduction of aldehyde groups into alcohol groups (-CH2OH), its absorption and metabolism are slower than glucose.

Is sorbitol safe for pregnant?


Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that’s found in many foods and beverages. Sorbitol is considered safe for most people, including pregnant women. However, it can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms if you consume too much of it. If you’re concerned about using sorbitol during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

How sorbitol is manufactured?


Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in foods and as an artificial sweetener.

Sorbitol is manufactured from glucose using the enzyme-catalyzed reaction shown below.

Step 1: Glucose + H2O → Sorbitol + H2SO4 (acid)

Step 2: Sorbitol + H2SO4 (acid) → Sorbitol-2-sulfonic acid (salt)

What is sorbitol side effects?


Sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. It has been used as a sweetener in many foods since the 1960s.

Sorbitol is not well absorbed by the body. In fact, it’s only about 20 percent absorbed, compared to 50 percent for fructose and glucose.

The main side effect of sorbitol is a laxative effect. In other words, it can cause loose stools or diarrhea because it’s not well absorbed by your intestinal tract. This may be due to the fact that sorbitol doesn’t stimulate digestive hormones like insulin as much as other sugars do.

Some people also report bloating or gas when consuming sorbitol. Because it’s poorly absorbed by the body, excess amounts can end up in your colon where bacteria ferment it into hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases (making you feel bloated).

Where to buy sorbitol?


You can buy sorbitol online at Amazon or in health food stores.

For a larger quantity, try eBay or Amazon. if you want to purchase large quantities from China, you can contact Grade Chemical, which is one reliable sorbitol supplier in China.

You may also want to do a search for “sorbitol powder”.

If you are looking for the granulated form (such as would be used in baking), then your local health food store might have some in stock; you may even find it at Walmart or Target.

Frequently asked questions


How to avoid sorbitol?


Sorbitol can be difficult to avoid because it’s often hidden in products like these. And while it’s not harmful in small quantities, too much sorbitol can cause gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

In order to avoid sorbitol without having to read every label of every product you buy or consume, make sure you’re staying away from:

-Fruits (dates)

-Vegetables (artichokes)

-Dairy products (yogurt)

Why does sorbitol cause diarrhea?


Sorbitol can cause diarrhea because it’s not absorbed by the body and passes through the digestive tract unchanged. This means that it stays in your intestines for a longer period of time than other sugars would. As a result, sorbitol can cause osmotic diarrhea—that is, your intestines lose fluid as they absorb water from the sorbitol molecules present in your stool.

Osmotic diarrhea usually occurs when you eat too much sorbitol at once or consume large amounts over an extended period of time. In addition to causing diarrhea, sorbitol can also cause gas or bloating due to its ability to draw water into your intestines from other parts of your body.

Which sweeteners contain sorbitol?


Sugar-free gum typically contains sorbitol, as do some types of candy, cookies, ice cream, and frozen desserts. The following are some common products that contain sorbitol:

-Candies (including hard candies such as Smarties®)

-Sugar-free gum

-Diet soda

-Diabetic candy bars

Where is sorbitol found?


Sorbitol is found in a wide variety of food products, including candies, desserts, and chewing gum. It is also found in many other products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and even baby products.

Is sorbitol natural?


Although sorbitol occurs naturally in fruits, it is not practical to extract it from them. By hydrogenating glucose, it is instead manufactured commercially.

Is sorbitol an artificial sweetener?


The term artificial sweetener is commonly used to refer to aspartame, neotame, and acesulfame K. The difference between these sweeteners and sorbitol comes down to calories and sweetness. In general, artificial sweeteners are lower in calories and sweeter than sorbitol.

Is sorbitol a preservative?


No, It can help preserve food by acting as a humectant, but it is not a preservative that inhibits microbial growth, such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate.

Is sorbitol halal?


Yes, In general, it is recognized as halal because it complies with the conditions of Halal under Islamic Law. It is also possible to find some manufacturers who are certified with MUI Halal.

Is sorbitol kosher?


Yes, It is pareve kosher. The product complies with all “kashruth” requirements and is kosher-certified.

Is sorbitol vegan?


Yes, In addition to being vegan friendly, it is produced without using animal matter or products derived from animals. Vegetarians can therefore add it to their diets.

Is sorbitol Gluten Free?


Yes, Neither gluten-free nor gluten-containing food labels use it. The FDA defines gluten-free as being free of wheat, rye, or crossbreeds of these grains. Sorbitol meets this definition. People with celiac disease are generally considered safe to consume it.

Final Words:


In conclusion, we can take a few things from this article: We learned that sugar alcohols have several advantages for food products. In addition to being a natural sweetener to replace sugar, many of them have only 50% to 70% of their calories. Some common examples of sorbitol are chewing gum and candies.

Sorbitol is used widely in the food industry as a sweetener. It’s commonly found in ice cream, chewing gum, and jelly beans, despite the fact that it’s not approved for use by the FDA as a general-purpose sweetener due to its adverse health effects. Sorbitol syrup is used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to replace sucrose (glucose-fructose) syrup or corn syrup.

What kinds of feedback have you found this sorbitol in? Let us know the below comments.

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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