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E421: Mannitol

A natural carbohydrate alcohol, present in many plants, e.g., conifers, seaweed and mushrooms. It is commercially produced from glucose (dextrose).

Function & characteristics:
Anti-caking agent, low-calorie sweetener, bulking agent, etc.

Bakery and confectionery products.

Acceptable Daily Intake:
Up to 160 mg/kg body weight.

Side effects:
Mannitol is largely absorbed and metabolised as glucose by the body. The remaining fraction is fermented in the large intestine. During fermentation, gases are produced, which may cause bloating and flatulence. In intolerant persons it can act as a laxative. Side effects normally occur after an intake of 25-30 grams in a single dose, which is far above the usage in normal foods.

Dietary restrictions:
Mannitol can be used by all religious groups, vegans and vegetarians. The term carbohydrate alcohol is a chemical definition; mannitol does not contain alcohol (ethanol).


European Masters Degree in Food Studies - an Educational Journey

Master in Food Safety Law is an initiative of Wageningen University, The Netherlands