Emulsifiers, Stabilisers, Thickeners
and Gelling Agents.
Polysorbates are made by reacting ethylene oxide (a gas)
with sorbitan esters (derivatives of sorbitol, another sugar
alcohol similar in function to mannitol). Polysorbates are generally
used in combination other emulsifiers such as mono- and diglycerides
or sorbitan monostearates for various purposes such as to disperse
flavours and colours, to make essential oils and vitamins soluble
and to improve volume and texture in baked goods.
Widely used as an emulsifier or solubiliser
in a variety of foods including bakery products and in cosmetics
and other industrial products.
Conflicting reports argue that large amounts
may or may not cause flatulence, diarrhoea and abdominal distension.
On the list of known and suspected Teratogens.
Also see E433, E434,
E435 and E436.