Sorbitan Tristearate While at a restaurant, you order a meal which includes a salad, followed by a soup, a club sandwich, and ice cream for dessert. These four food items have more in common than you think; the salad dressing on your salad and the mayonnaise on your sandwich and your soup and ice cream all contain sorbitan tristearate. But what is sorbitan tristearate that is found in so many of the foods that you eat everyday? Sorbitan tristearate is a non-toxic product that is used in foods, among other products. It is used as a substitute for sorbitan stearate and conforms to Food and Drug Administration requirements. The main focus of this paper will be the chemical and physical properties of sorbitan tristearate, its structure, the use it has as a food additive, how it is manufactured, and the toxicology of the product. I chose this as the topic of my paper because there are so many things that we hear about in the news that is in our food and the effects that it has on us as human beings.
I found it interesting that this could be used in so many different foods that we eat today.
Sorbitan tristearate has a few distinctive physical characteristics. Sorbitan tristearate can be distinguished by its physical characteristics of "a light cream to tan colored, hard waxy solid with a bland odor and taste" (Burdock 2622). There are also a number of chemical properties. Sorbitan tristearate is insoluble in water, hazy in ethanol, slightly soluble in n-hexane, and clearly soluble in xylene ("Sorbitan Fatty Acid Ester and Poe Sorbitan Fatty Acid Ester"). "It is soluble at temperatures above its melting point in toluene, ethanol, methanol, and other alcohols" (Winter 371). The empirical formula of sorbitan tristearate is C24H4606 (Burdock 2621). Having knowledge of the physical and chemical characteristics and the empirical formula can help in the identification of this food additive.
Sorbitan tristearate has a few functional uses in foods. It is mainly an emulsifier ("ANZFA: A10 Modifying Agents"). In Hill and Kolb's Chemistry for Changing Times, an emulsifier is defined as a suspended subatomic particle of fat or oil in water (A-19). It also functions as "flavors and flavor modifiers, surface tension control agent, appearance control agent for substances other than colors and color modifiers, stabilizer and thickener, and solvent/carrier/encapsulating agent" (Burdock 2622). The Canada Gazette recently wrote about an amendment to the Canadian Food and Drug Act, which includes the use of sorbitan tristearate. The Department of Health of Canada permitted the use of sorbitan tristearate at a maximum level of 0.035 percent in "ice cream mix and unstandardized ice cream desserts" (Canada Gazette 2). This is at the consumer's advantage because it will provide a "greater availability of quality ice cream products" (2). Sorbitan tristearate can be found in a variety of foods.
Sorbitan tristearate has a number of uses in food. These foods include salad dressing, mayonnaise, mixtures that consist mainly of skim milk powder, soups, and spreads ("ANZFA: A10 Modifying Agents"). Sorbitan tristearate is also has many other commercial uses. It can be used in fiber lubricant and softener, cutting lubricant emulsifier, and also as an additive for cutting lubricants. It can also be used as an antistatic agent for plastics and other high molecular products and as an antistatic agent for synthetic textiles and resin. Sorbtian tristearate is used as a dispersant for ink, a dyestuff solubilizer, and emulsifier and dispersant for emulsion paints. Not only is it applied as a defoamer and emulsibility adjuster, but it can be applied as an antifogging agent for plastic films, as well ("Sorbitan Fatty Acid Ester and Poe Sorbitan Fatty Acid Ester"). Sorbitan tristearate has an assortment of uses in food, as well as other products.
Sorbitan tristearate is manufactured. It is done so by "reacting edible commercial strearic acid with sorbitol. It usually contains associated fatty acids, mainly the fatty acid palmitic" (Burdock 2621). It can be safely used if the sorbitan tristearate is manufactured with stearic acid and sorbitol to "yield a mixture of esters" (2622). If these components are combined correctly, the sorbitan tristearate has been manufactured properly and is regulatory.
Food additives are tested for their toxicity. Sorbitan tristearate is non-toxic (Winter 371). The World Health Organization has performed tests to prove the non-toxicity of sorbitan tristearate. In a test performed on 10 female rats, weighing 125 to 175 grams, each were fed 10 ml/kg of sorbitan tristearate by means of a stomach tube. The sorbitan tristearate was in the form of 50% aqueus emulsion. Observations took place over six days. Four of these rats were killed and their kidneys and livers were studied, all of which gave normal findings. This proved that sorbitan tristearate, in the amount of 50,000 ppm in a diet equivalent to 2500 mg/kg of a rat, has no toxicological effect ("Sorbitan Monoesters of Palmitic and Earic Acid").
There were also experiments performed on humans to test the toxicity of sorbitan tristearate. Over a period of 28 days, nine human subjects were administered 6 g/day of sorbitan tristearate. There were no significant effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Another experiment using 16 humans as subjects, with the same amount of sorbitan tristearate over the same amount of time, showed normal findings in "blood chemistry, other haematological findings, urine analyses, and liver function tests" ("Sorbitan Monoesters of Palmitic and Earic Acid"). The conclusion was made that an average daily intake of sorbitan tristearate for man should be between 0 and 25 mg/kg ("Sorbitan Monoesters of Palmitic and Earic Acid").
Sorbitan tristearate is a food additive that has characteristics identifiable by studying the physical and chemical composition. It is also recognizable as C24H46O6. Sorbitan tristearate can be used as a thickener or flavor modifier among other uses, such as being used as an antifogging substance for plastic. Sorbitan tristearate is non-toxic and meets the guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration as a food additive.