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Fatty acids


E 570 | Emulgator
Possible application of gene technology Labelling
Raw materials GM soybean, MG maize, GM oilseed rape yes



Fatty acids are natural components of fats and oils. A variety of chemical compounds based on fatty acids are used as additives with specific technical qualities, such as:

  • sodium, potassium or calcium salts of edible fatty acids (E 470a) or magnesium salts of edible fatty acids (E 470b)
  • mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E 471) and their ester compounds (E 472a-f)
  • sugar esters of edible fatty acids (E 473)
  • sugar glycerides (E 474)
  • polyglycerin esters of edible fatty acids (E 475)
  • propylene glycol ester of fatty acids (E 477)
  • thermally oxidised soybean oil with mono- and diglycerides of edible fatty acids (E 479b)


According to their technological qualitites, fatty acid compounds are applied as special emulgators, ligands, stabilisers, agents for whipping and glazing, coating and surface treatment, for example in: 

Gene technology

Fatty acids are produced from a variety of plants that contain oil, such as soybean, but also rapeseed and maize.

  • Soybeans: as a rule, soy-based raw materials on the international market stem either partially or wholly from genetically modified plants. GM soy is grown on a large scale in Argentina and the USA. The EU receives a large portion of soy-based raw materials from these countries.
    Some food producers process conventional soy-based raw materials exclusively. However, an absolute separation of conventional and GM soybeans that includes all stages of processing is technically impossible. Therefore, even raw materials which have been declared to be "free of gene technology" may contain small quantities of GMO.
  • Maize may contain a specific portion of genetically modified maize, particularly when raw materials have been obtained from the USA or from Argentina. In the EU, genetically modified maize is grown on a comparatively small area.
    However, accidental admixtures of GM to conventional maize are possible. As a rule, this portion remains under the valid labelling threshold of 0.9 per cent.

Labelling: Fatty acids obtained from genetically modified plants (such as soy and oilseed rape) must be labelled as such. The question remains open if this applies to additives which have been derived from fatty acids in a series of further steps.

December 10, 2008 [nach oben springen]

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