Re-evaluation of polyoxyethylene sorbitans (E 432–E 436) as food additives


food additive, polysorbate 20 (E 432), polysorbate 80 (E 433), polysorbate 40 (E 434), polysorbate 60 (E 435), polysorbate 65 (E 436)
First published in the EFSA Journal
17 July 2015
10 June 2015
Scientific Opinion

The Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) re-evaluated the safety of polysorbate 20 (E 432), polysorbate 80 (E 433), polysorbate 40 (E 434), polysorbate 60 (E 435) and polysorbate 65 (E 436) as food additives. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) derived an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 25 mg/kg body weight (bw)/day (group ADI for polysorbates 20, 40, 60, 65 and 80) and the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) derived a group ADI of 10 mg/kg bw/day. Small amounts of polyoxyethylene sorbitans are absorbed. Similar toxicokinetics would be expected for all polysorbates based on their similarities in structure and metabolic fate. The acute toxicity is very low. There is no concern regarding genotoxicity, carcinogenicity or developmental toxicity. From a limited number of studies, there is no indication of reproductive toxicity. The Panel considered the long-term carcinogenicity study in rats with a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) equivalent to 2 500 mg/kg bw/day – consistent with the NOAEL defined in subchronic studies – as the key study and allocated a group ADI of 25 mg/kg bw/day using an uncertainty factor of 100. The estimated exposure of toddlers at the highest level in non-brand loyal scenario remains very close to the ADI (24.5 mg/kg bw/day). The Panel is aware that for three food categories no reported uses have been obtained and that other dietary sources of exposure to polysorbates could not been considered in this opinion and therefore more data (usage and analytical data) are needed to decrease uncertainties in the refined exposure assessment scenario used.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Fernando Aguilar, Riccardo Crebelli, Alessandro Di Domenico, Birgit Dusemund, Maria Jose Frutos, Pierre Galtier, David Gott, Ursula Gundert-Remy, Claude Lambré, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Oliver Lindtner, Peter Moldeus, Alicja Mortensen, Pasquale Mosesso, Agneta Oskarsson, Dominique Parent-Massin, Ivan Stankovic, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Rudolf Antonius Woutersen, Matthew Wright and Maged Younes.
Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food
fip [at]
EFSA Journal 2015;13(7):4152 [74 pp.].
On request from
European Commission
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