Re-evaluation of glycerol (E 422) as a food additive

glycerol, glycerine, 1,2,3-propanetriol, trihydroxypropane, E 422, CAS Registry Number 56-81-5, food additive
First published in the EFSA Journal
15 March 2017
25 January 2017
Scientific Opinion


The ANS Panel provides a scientific opinion re-evaluating the safety of glycerol (E 422) used as a food additive. In 1981, the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) endorsed the conclusion from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in 1976 of ‘acceptable daily intake (ADI) for man not specified’. The Panel concluded that glycerol has low acute toxicity and that local irritating effects of glycerol in the gastrointestinal tract reported in some gavage studies was likely due to hygroscopic and osmotic effects of glycerol. Glycerol did not raise concern with respect to genotoxicity and was of no concern with regard to carcinogenicity. Reproductive and prenatal developmental studies were limited to conclude on reproductive toxicity but no dose-related adverse effects were reported. None of the animal studies available identified an adverse effect for glycerol. The Panel conservatively estimated the lowest oral dose of glycerol required for therapeutic effect to be 125 mg/kg bw per hour and noted that infants and toddlers can be exposed to that dose by drinking less than the volume of one can (330 mL) of a flavoured drink. The Panel concluded that there is no need for a numerical ADI and no safety concern regarding the use of glycerol (E 422) as a food additive at the refined exposure assessment for the reported uses. The Panel also concluded that the manufacturing process of glycerol should not allow the production of a food additive, which contains genotoxic and carcinogenic residuals at a level which would result in a margin of exposure below 10,000. The Panel recommended modification of the EU specifications for E 422. The Panel also recommended that more information on uses and use levels and analytical data should be made available to the Panel.

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, Dominique Parent-Massin, Agneta Oskarsson, 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 2017;15(3):4720
Question Number
On request from
European Commission