Propylene glycol is safe in food and good for consumption because of the several benefits the body can get from it. Propylene glycol is a compound commonly found in many household products, especially carbonated drinks, cosmetics, hair products, and others. Many manufacturing industries also add it to their products, such as solvents, brake fluids, thinners, etc. About 97% of the seasoning and flavors we add to food and snacks contain propylene glycol. The food authorities, especially in the United States and European countries, have announced its safety for consumption in foods.
There have been controversies about propylene glycol, as many stated its side effects since many also use it for antifreeze. Consumption has resulted in different health issues and concerns in many people. So, let us look at what propylene glycol is and how safe it is in food.
Although, when exposed to the eye, propylene glycol can cause conjunctivitis, this often goes down once you move the eyes from propylene glycol exposure. A small level of skin irritation has been linked to propylene glycol, primarily when used in large quantities.
What is Propylene Glycol?
Propylene glycol is from the family of alcohol. It was derived from propene. Propene, when converted to form propylene, becomes very harmful. This propylene is often used in making propylene oxide which, when hydrolyzed with water, you get the propylene glycol.
Propylene glycol is often colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless, and often taken for ethylene glycol, but they are entirely different. It is mainly used in various processed foods for preservation and products like skin products as it helps in moistening and smoothing the skin. It is also called propanediol, methyl ethyl glycol, trimethyl glycol.
Which Foods Contain Propylene Glycol?
Different common foods contain propylene glycol, either in large or small quantities that many people are ignorant about this fact. Manufacturing industries use this propylene glycol to increase the lifespan of their processed foods. Propylene glycol can serve as food addictive or preservation. Foods that contain propylene glycol include the following:
- Fast foods.
- Soft or carbonated drinks.
- Processed snacks.
- Baking ingredients for cakes, biscuits, cupcakes, and pancakes.
- Beverages that are alcoholic.
- Coloring agents for food.
- Ice cream flavors.
- Ice cream with flavors.
- Canned foods and also dairy products.
These foods contain propylene glycol either as a preservative, emulsifier, or to improve the appearance and texture of the food. Many people believe that propylene glycol is suitable for consumption when it is in low quantity, but how safe is it for consumption?
Is Propylene Glycol Safe for Consumption?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared propylene glycol safe for various uses, especially in food, drugs, and cosmetics. But according to the World Health Organization, only twenty-five milligrams of propylene glycol per kilogram is safe for your body weight. Once it’s beyond that, it becomes toxic for the body. It is the daily intake that every consumer must note to ensure they don’t take the propylene glycol in excess.
There is the probability that one can’t take in more than enough propylene glycol. This is because the foods and beverages only contain a small quantity of it. It also undergoes degradation in the body fast. It is why propylene glycol is safe for consumption but in a small amount even though calculating the quantity it in food may be difficult.
Are There Any Side Effects of Consuming Propylene Glycol?
Although, the FDA declared propylene glycol safe for consumption. There are some potential risks in taking high level of propylene glycol. About 3.5% of people are allergic to propylene glycol, and as such, it may not be suitable for consumption by this set of people.
Propylene glycol digests quickly in the body. It has a high absorption rate in the gastrointestinal tract, but this absorption rate may be low in those with underlying diseases like liver and kidney diseases. It may result in acidosis because of the pile-up of lactic acid and propylene glycol in the body. But for every other person, propylene glycol is free for consumption.
How Do You Avoid Propylene Glycol in Your Body?
Propylene glycol is present in the majority of the canned foods, beverages, and processed foods we consume daily. It means one may not be able to get rid of this propylene glycol completely. But you can take control of the quantity you consume. If you want to avoid its consumption altogether, you have to stop taking everything that has propylene glycol, either processed foods, beverages, skin care products, drugs. Start consuming fresh food instead since fresh food doesn’t need any preservatives or other chemicals for packaging.
Always check their ingredients before purchase. You can replace beverages intake with water. It is an excellent way to reduce the intake of propylene glycol. Other products don’t contain propylene glycol. You can check up and go for them instead of the ones that have them.
Conclusively, propylene glycol is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless compound often found inside food, beverages, skincare, and hair products, including medications. The food authorities have declared it safe for consumption. Only at 25 milligrams per kilogram per body weight. The Food and Drug Authorities placed this restriction for the producers and manufactures to know how to add propylene glycol to their products. This is to ensure that consumers are safe when they use their products or consume them.
Many industries, especially manufacturing, use propylene glycol as additives, emulsifiers, flavoring agents, and others. The body system absorbs it easily through metabolism. However, people with kidney and liver problems may find it difficult because the absorption rate is slow. This may endanger their health. You should know your state of health before consumption.
Also, if you want to reduce the consumption or avoid taking it inside food, beverages the best thing you can do is to check the products before consumption. This will help you to know whether they have propylene glycol. The best way to prevent consumption is to eat fresh food and replace beverages with water since fresh food doesn’t need preservatives, additives, and other chemical products for packaging.