Emulsifiers are auxiliaries that serve to mix two immiscible liquids, such as oil and water, into a finely divided mixture, the so-called emulsion , and to stabilize them. The same applies to the mixing of solid, insoluble substances in a liquid in order to stabilize a so-called suspension . The auxiliaries, often also referred to as surfactants , are widely used in pharmacy, food technology as food additives , the oil industry , in the household (in cleaning agents and water-based paints ), in cosmetics and numerous large-scale industrial applications. The physical properties of these surface-active substances are described in detail under “ Surfactants ”. An emulsifier that is effective in water must contain a very water-soluble partial structure (e.g. polyol) and a readily fat-soluble partial structure (e.g. fatty alcohol or fatty acid) in the molecule.
Compounds that are used as emulsifiers in the food industry are included in the list of food additives . Important emulsifiers in the food industry are lecithins and mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids .
There are indications that the permitted additives carboxymethyl cellulose (E466) and emulsifier polysorbate 80 (E433), which have been added to foods such as ice cream or baked goods, can lead to intestinal inflammation and a change in the intestinal flora . In a study on mice, adding one percent of the above-mentioned emulsifiers to the feed doubled the rate of inflammatory bowel disease in particularly susceptible animals and led to low-threshold bowel inflammation and signs of a metabolic syndrome in non-susceptible animals.
In the intestine, bile serves as an emulsifier for fats to enable their digestion.
- Entry on emulsifiers. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on November 10, 2014.
- dradio.de: Questionable food additives: Emulsifiers disrupt the intestinal flora. February 27, 2015.
- Colitis: Preservatives damage the mucous barrier in the intestine in Ärzteblatt .