What Is PGPR (E476) In Chocolate? Uses, Safety, Side Effects
Production | Uses | Safety | Side effects | Conclusion
PGPR, the full name of polyglycerol polyricinoleate, is an ingredient commonly used as a water-in-oil type (W/O) emulsifier in chocolate and chocolate-type confectionary to reduce the viscosity in production. It is a type of polyglycerol esters (PGE) with the European food additive number E476.
How is it made?
PGPR is a mixture of esterified products manufactured by the esterification of polyglycerol with condensed castor oil fatty acids. The brief 3 step manufacturing processes as follows:
1. Polyglycerols preparation: Glycerol is heated to above 200 ℃ in the presence of an alkali catalyst to produce polyglycerol.
2. Condensation of the castor oil fatty acids: Castor oil fatty acids (synthesized by hydrolysing castor oil in water) are heated to above 200 ℃ to create interesterified ricinoleic fatty acid chains of varying lengths.
3. Esterification: Then polyglycerol mixed with interesterified ricinoleic fatty acids to produce PGPR with different chain lengths. (1)
Fatty acids In Castor Oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that can be pressed from castor beans. It is mainly composed of ricinoleic acid (85–95%). Other components are oleic acid (2–6%), linoleic acid (1–5%), stearic acid (0.5–1%) and palmitic acid (0.5–1%). (2)
Clear, highly viscous liquid.
It is strong lipophilic W/O emulsifier and can form stable emulsions even when the water content is very high.
Insoluble in water and in ethanol; soluble in ether.
PGPR consists of polyglycerol as the hydrophilic group and interesterified ricinoleic fatty acids as the hydrophobic group in its structure.
What’re the common food uses?
The common applications of PGPR are as an emulsifier in chocolates. It also can be used in confectionery fillings to reduce fat and improve the flow properties, and in low-fat spreads to stabilize the emulsion and improve mouthfeel and spreadability.
What is this ingredient in chocolate?
It is common to see it in the ingredients list of the chocolate candy which you might find in the supermarket. Let’s see its functions in chocolate.
1. Viscosity reduction agent
PGPR has good thermal stability. The most important advantage in chocolate manufacturing is its ability in preventing crystals occur by reducing the viscosity of the chocolate slurry, thereby improving its fluidity, accelerating and optimizing the chocolate moulding process.
2. Eliminating bubble formation and empty holes
PGPR also help release small bubbles generated during the moulding process, thereby avoiding bubbles and holes in the chocolate product.
3. Synergistic with lecithin
It has a good synergistic effect when used together with lecithin (an emulsifier, E322).
4. Reduction of cocoa butter
It can significantly reduce the shear stress and the amount of cocoa butter needed (to reduce the cost for chocolate manufacturers) in chocolate formulations, along with the reduction of the thickness of the chocolate coating, and improve the ease of processing.
What other food may contain it?
The following products may with it (3):
- Spreadable fats
- Cocoa products
- Cocoa-based confectionery
- Emulsified sauces
Is PGPR safe to eat?
Yes, PGPR has been approved as a safe emulsifier by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).
The FDA had no question on Palsgaard’s conclusion that PGPR is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) when used as an emulsifier in chocolate-type products based on vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in the maximum levels 0.3%. (4)
Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (E476) is listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive and categorized in “Additives other than colours and sweeteners” (5).
Safety re-evaluation in 2017
In 2017, after the study on genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, the EFSA concluded that polyglycerol polyricinoleate as a food additive at the permitted uses and levels would not be of safety concern and derived the following conclusions (6):
PGPR is metabolized to free polyglycerols, polyricinoleic acid and free ricinoleic acid in the gut after oral dosing in rats.
- Ricinoleic acid: It is safe as an edible fats and oils and it was not of toxicological concern nor possible allergenicity.
- Polyglycerol: safe to contact with all types of food when used in plasticiser at a maximum level of 6.5% w/w in polymer blends of aliphatic baromatic polyesters.
ADI: EFSA may change the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 7.5 mg/kg bw per day to 25 mg/kg bw per day in 2020 after a 2-year combined chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity study and derived a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 2,500 mg/kg bw per day. (7)
UK Food Standards Agency
Categorized in “Emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents” (8)
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
It is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand with the code number 476. (9)
JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives)
Function Class: food additives, emulsifier. (10)
Acceptable daily intake: ADI “7.5 mg/kg bw” set in 1973. (11)
What are the possible side effects?
It is common that sometimes consumers have health concerns whether PGPR is bad for our health and what are the side effects. We understand that consumers prefer natural food and have concerns about synthetic food additive in the foods we eat. PGPR is generally considered safe but some population may be allergic to it.
Does PGPR cause cancer?
No, a study published in Food Chem Toxicol in 1998 demonstrated that no carcinogenic effect of PGPR was observed. In this study, diets containing 5% of this ingredient were given to 120 rats for 2 years and 50 mice for 80 weeks. (12)
Another report published in Food Chem Toxicol in 1998 concluded that PGPR in tin-greasing emulsions or in chocolate couverture does not pose a human health hazard from a lot of researches conducted from late 1950s and early 1960s, including acute toxicity tests, animal carcinogenicity tests, human clinical evaluation and so on. (13)
Is PGPR Natural?
No, it is not natural as mentioned above, it is made from the reaction of glycerol and fatty acids.
Is PGPR Halal?
Yes, it is halal and comply with the diet policy of Muslims and we can find some China manufacturers certificated with MUI halal.
Is PGPR Kosher?
Yes, it is kosher pareve. E476 has met all the “kashruth” requirements and has been certified as kosher.
Is PGPR Gluten free?
Yes, it is gluten free and comply with the FDA’s definition of gluten free, that it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains. And it is generally considered safe for people with celiac disease.
Is PGPR Vegan?
Yes, it is vegan as it derived from vegetable sources of glycerol and castor oil, the manufacturing process without the use of animal matter or products derived from animal origin. However, glycerol can also be sourced from animal fats & oils, so vegetarians should avoid this derivation.
Now I think you may have a good knowledge of the emulsifier – PGPR (E476), from the production process, uses and function in chocolate, approved safety and possible side effects. Also you may be clear with some common FAQs such as is it gluten free and vegan.
What kinds of food packaging have you found this ingredient in? Let me know in the comments.
I recently ate a Hershey bar for the first time in a long time. I had a violent allergic reaction with a very itchy rash that lasted for a week. The doctor in Urgent Care called it “one hell of a rash”. I required a doctor visit and two prescription medications before I got some relief.
I do not understand: you say it is not natural, yet there are only 2 ingredients: 1) Castor oil 2) glycerine aka “glycerol” and all you do is HEAT them both together?? How is this not natural?? What are you not telling us?? What’s plastic, petroleum or unnaatural-synthetic here? Please reply! TIA!
A food additive claimed natural usually meet two requirements: 1) can be found in natural 2) made from extraction or fermentation or other manufacturing process that can be called natural instead of chemical synthesis.
As you can learn that PGPR is made from the synthesis, that’s why it is not natural.
Can I add this to my own chocolates? If so, how do I add it and how much do I use?
I mean compound chocolate not real chocolate.
Yes, it can be added to your chocolates. Do you make chocolates at home?
I started making coustmize chocolates,so can you tell me how much i have to use pgpr in chocolate & on what stage i have to add it.
Thank you for this article Mr.Han.
I found PGPR in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Snack Size.
Thanks for your information.
Hershey’s with almonds bar, 3/15/21. Never noticed this ingredient until recently. Thanks for the info. This ingredient is NOT currently in Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree with almonds nor Lindt 85% dark chocolate.
When I find PGPR in chocolate, I discontinue purchase. So far, no more Hershey Bars, Hershey Kisses, Reese’s PB Cups, and today I found it in Hershey’s Symphony Bar. Guess it’s Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Dove from here on out.
I have been eating the same portions of Sainsbury’s supermarket dark chocolate every evening for many years now but:-
I found PGPR as a changed ingredient in the latest version of Sainsbury’s Own Brand dark chocolate.
When I ate a quarter of the bar yesterday I had severe bloated indigestion when eaten in conjunction with bread.
I tried another quarter of the bar today with plain dry water biscuits [i.e. eliminating bread] and the bloated indigestion was
still there but slightly less severe, Tomorrow I will just eat the water biscuits and see what occurs but I highly suspect that the PGPR is causing my problem. I will just eat the water biscuits tomorrow evening and by process of elimination if my problem disappears I will totally avoid PGPR chocolate?
You can try not to eat PGPR chocolate first, to see if the same problem occurs.
Superb article and associated comments. Thank You.
PGPR is listed as an ingredient in Dove Deeper Dark Chocolate.
Found it in York Peppermint patty, I’ve never seen it before and decided to look it up. Thanks for the information.
I recently discovered it in most Hershey products as some have commented above and, like “Lynn”, decided to look it up. I have not had a reaction to it but will probably refrain from purchasing chocolate with PGPR. Thank you for the article!
I noticed it in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Snack Size bars, they are so waxy it is disgusting, they don’t melt very well in the mouth, the texture is not smooth and makes the chocolate taste horrible. I also will avoid buying any chocolate with PGPR. I feel like I am chewing on a candle. Hershey’s – you better listen to your consumers. I will happily pay more to have the good chocolate back that you used to make – get rid of PGPR and start putting cocoa butter back!!!
I ate a Twix candy bar today. It tasted nasty so I checked the ingredients list and saw PGPR listed, which I think is probably a recent addition. I will never buy this product again: PGPR has ruined the flavor of my former favorite candy.
I’ve had it in Amul Bitter Chocolate with 75 % cocoa, in a plastic wrapper. I usually avoid any additives, my Go to being Lindt 70% in which there is none.
Ate a Hershey/s cookies n’ creme bar and 3 hrs later had bronchial spasms with wheezing and coughing so hard my head hurt. Suspected an allergic reaction similar to another product experience with polyglycol; sure enough ingredient on the candy bar state polyglycerol and YES I AM HAVING AN ALLERGIC REACTION affecting BRONCHI.
Did you all catch the word “ricin” in there? As in the deadly poison made from castor beans. Just like PGPR.
I’ll be avoiding PGPR like the plague.
There is no ricin in the castor oil, the ricin (deadly poison ) comes from the seeds only
Found it in Aero chocolate in bulk foods here in Canada, decided to look it up. Excellent article and comments, thanks!
Found in Hershey kiss birthday cake flavor….was looking for whatever the bitter aftertaste is from…prob all that artificial coloring…grandkids requested cookies w these…made cookies from scratch…then topped w poison😖
From the explanation about PGPR above: “glycerol can also be sourced from animal fats & oils, so vegetarians should avoid this derivation.” How does the purchaser of products containing PGPR know what sort of glycerol is used? How can the stuff be Halal when it can easily be made from pig fat?
The new texture of Hershey’s chocolate is not as pleasurable as it was before they started adding PGPR to their chocolate. And since Hershey is using hydrogenated fats in their other chocolate products, who knows what they are up to next?
Then there is the issue of another adulterant, “natural flavor”. They are hiding some thing with that ingredient. I’m betting it is not chocolate or vanilla, but just another secret they are trying to cram down people’s throats Hershey is no longer a desired product label for me.
I noted this in a “Terry’s Chocolate Orange” received from St Nick last month. Product is made in France. A Cadbury product, Fruit and Nut bar, also lists in the ingredients. Worthy of note is that NONE of the house brand bars from Aldi currently list PGPR on the wrappers, nor do the Ghirardelli products checked to date.
Hershey’s lost favor with me back when they closed US and Canadian factories and moved those operations to Mexico and denied it was driven by profit motive. I guess we’re to believe that their sole motivation was to raise the standard of living of the worker in Mexico. Their quality had already been on a steady decline with the standard bars being very waxy for quite some time. Then shortly after the move their prices began a steady climb.
I started eating Symphony bars and they were amazing. Then I noticed “Symphony” on the bars was replaced with “Hershey’s” and the quality dropped rather drastically shortly thereafter. Since then I’ve been eating Cadbury’s and I just recently heard someone make a reference to Hershey’s when talking about Cadbury’s. Today I checked and sure enough, Cadbury’s is now a Hershey’s product and has the PGPR in it. I saw an off the wall brand of chocolate in the Jewish Kosher section and even that had PGPR on the label. I don’t understand how this can possibly be considered Kosher. I’m down to eating Ghirardelli baking chocolate now.
PGPR maybe a cheaper alternative to the cocoa butter but the cocoa butter is a naturally occurring constituent of chocolate that requires additional steps to remove it and then something like PGPR to replace it. The reason it’s removed is that cocoa butter brings a rather high profit when sold to the cosmetics industry. Personally, I’d rather eat the high quality, naturally occurring cocoa butter in my chocolate and let people smear adulterated oils on their faces.
I was wondering if manufacturers are required to list it on the label if they are using it. I recently ate a Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar and decided to check the ingredient list after I noticed it didn’t taste as good as it usually does. When will manufacturers realize that if you can’t save money by cheapening your product because you will just lose the customer. We can tell the difference.
Brook side Dark Chocolate Açaí & Blueberry purchased at Costco in Utah did not have PGPR in their bags with BB date 07 2019, 01 2022, or 06 2022. However, bags with BB date 11 2022 and 03 2022 do have PGPR. The pomegranate flavor dates up until 10 2022 do not have PGPR listed. I’m about to call Brookside distributed by The Hershey Company Hershey, PA and return these artificial products to Costco. It’s disappointing to see Hershey going in the wrong direction. I noticed them make this same change with their mini chocolate bars.
Good information. I recently ate a number of “Hershey’s Special Dark” snack bars and am still dealing with reactions … I will stick with my Theo Organic Dark Chocolate 85% with no toxic additives. WE ALL NEED TO STAND UP AND BOYCOTT THESE COMPANIES ADDING TOXIC INGREDIENTS; otherwise it will continue to affect our health negatively. Praise to FoodBabe who does reporting on these topics!
Canadian made Brookside chocolate almonds contains pgpr.
It’s not about the chocolate anymore, it’s all about the profits. No thanks, Hershey!
Nothing is safe just because FDA &/or WHO (Bill Gates) claim it is. It’s a polymer blend of polyester…meaning Plastic.
Decent technical review, the grammar and positive tone begs the question of credibility, as one might expect from a manufacturer’s representative.
Brookside Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate, BB 06 2023, now lists PGPR as an ingredient in the Dark Chocolate, and doesn’t list a Dark Chocolate percentage on the bag. Tasted waxy and hard, checked the bag, oh, surprise surprise, it’s a Hershey bait and switch.
It’s not a polymer, but it is a plasticizer. Not harmful (unless you’re allergic), but not tasty either.
I don’t understand why you are changing the way chocolate is made. To me it seems fishy. How does it react with physiology of the body? Does it affect the BBB, or the intestinal wall? As I have also noticed new additives in the peanut butter cups, and I am not pleased. It is extremely hard to find any candy that people don’t have food allergies to. And now the few, and I do mean few, you’re adding questionable chemicals to them, as this is a by product of two other ingredients chemical response. The candy industry is loosing me as a customer.
Hello, thank you for this report. I agree with all those who switched their chocolate brand to Ghirardelli or Lindt. I am dairy free and grain free due to psoriasis and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any healthy candy or snacks. I wish food manufacturers would realize that they are contributing to the unwellness of our nation and world whenever they include synthetic . and unnatural ingredients in their food. Too many people have cancers, allergies and debilitating autoimmune diseases. It’s such a shame that manufacturers are not willing to use healthy natural ingredients to decrease suffering in our population. Some have, and I applaud them. There are many natural substances that could be used to achieve the same desired result, aka, celery juice and cherry powder as preservatives in meat. So glad some are getting it!
I started having gastrointestinal difficulties and realized that I had eaten part of a Hershey’s w/almonds bar purchased at Cracker Barrel. After speaking with a family member, I learned of PGPR. I have never been so sick. I will not eat another product of Hershey containing this ingredient. I have a compromised immune system and this could have been so much worse. List a customer.
interesting article and comments. Be informed on the food you are eating.
Aldi milk chocolate buttons brought me here, was expecting anything amazing from them but they taste disgusting nothing like chocolate should. Low and be behold PGPR on the packet. Thanks for the article but as the comment above states just because it’s FDA or the likes approved really doesn’t mean it’s safe. They will literally feed us anything for higher profits.
hersheys baking chocolate chips do not have PGPR in it. i eat those instead.
Loved Symphony chocolate bars. Bought one of the new bars with new wrapper. Wondered why it tasted funny. Read the ingredients and looked up what it was. ….eating plastic. Good by Hershey’s. Enjoy Mexico.
Ate Hershey with almonds and I had allergic reaction
with itchy breakout in hair line and around ears! I will
forgo Hershey chocolate now! (The Hershey bag had
PGPR listed in ingredients.)
In response to L.G.
“I wish food manufacturers would realize that they are contributing to the unwellness of our nation and world whenever they include synthetic . and unnatural ingredients in their food. Too many people have cancers, allergies and debilitating autoimmune diseases.”
They know. Not only do they not care, they actually expect it and profit from it, seeing as many of these companies are tied to the pharmaceutical industry as well. Furthermore, in case you hadn’t noticed, there is a deliberate depopulation agenda being carried out.
WILL PURCHASE ONLY EUROPEAN CHOCOLATES, THE USA ALLOWS TOXIC CHEMICALS TO BE USED IN PRODUCTS . PGPR IS PLASTIC. SHAME ON FDA FOR ALLOWING THIS!
I’ve noticed change in taste of several things, not just chocolate. Look up senomyx. It’s being used in candy, ice cream and many products as a flavor enhancer. I will never knowingly eat anything containing this!
I have a mild IBS which comes and goes. I have a good list of certain foods which never cause me any problems, and always eat from that list. I can also eat Galaxy chocolate bars which I enjoy. The other day I ate 2 small Galaxy Ripple bars thinking it was exactly the same chocolate so there wouldn’t be any problem. But the next morning I had a slightly upset gut. I didn’t suspect the other food I had eaten as I never get problems with those foods. Nor was the cause anything I had drunk.
Curious, I read the wrapper of these Ripple bars, and noticed PGPR was an ingredient (whereas the Galaxy bars don’t have it, and just have soya lecithin,) As a result I knew that ingredient had upset my gut. That’s why I am researching it today, and why I’m here.
I recently bought a 6 pack of Hershey’s chocolate bars and I did not notice any change in taste or texture. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the outer packaging showing the ingredients until after I opened the package; so I can’t take it back.
After reading what PGPR is and what it does, it occurred to me Hershey’s must be putting this in their chocolate to be able to make the bars thinner saving the company money because the price of cocoa has gone up and this is a way to use less cocoa. I did not have a bad reaction after eating it but I will not buy anymore of it. I also noticed the ingredients list soy as an ingredient too. I don’t eat soy in any other food items either. So this is another reason I will not buy any Hershey’s product from now on. I buy my chocolate bars by Choceur at Aldi and it doesn’t have either ingredient in them.
Sadly, no more peanut blossom cookies (made with Hershey Chocolate kisses) for me anymore. Shame on Hersheys.
After consuming some REESE’S THINS, I started having an anaphylactoid reaction and came extremely close to calling for an ambulance as my blood pressure dropped to 40 systolic, and had severe abdominal cramping and turned as red as most firetrucks. Luckily, I was able to stop my reaction with 250 mg of diphenhydramine (spindles not work for my reactions). I read the label and discovered PGPR as an added ingredient and the only one that could possibly cause my reaction. Unfortunately, I have always loved REESE’S products, however I am trying to stay alive as long as possible an will no longer use any products containing PGPR as it appears to trigger a mast cell reaction (MCAS) and is just as deadly as an anaphylactic reaction triggered by allergens. Thank you for your article and insight. I will definitely try to avoid any other products containing PGPR from now on and I hope anyone else who has the reactions avoids consuming these products as well.
How long ago did Hersheys start adding this PGPR to their products? I’m really having a lot of problems eating candy bars now, but I loved the hersheys chocolate drops and their candy coated Easter eggs. But this year, every time I eat them, I seem to be getting lower gut cramps.
I am glad to find out what PGPR is. I haven’t liked Hershey candies ever since the change. It’s no surprise to read that some people are having allergic reactions to PGPR. I am like that, too. I have digestive issues with bloating and diarrhea when I eat foods that have certain unnatural ingredients in them, so I avoid GMOs, artificial sugars and fats, and selected preservatives. I have also discovered that “bioengineered” is the new way of labeling GMOs.
I used to be able to eat anything. Thanks to the introduction of GMOs, cheap fillers, substitutes, and preservatives, I now get sick a lot and have stopped buying many products that are the worst offenders. Another issue is pesticides. I try to buy organic whenever possible for the same reason.
Known GMO products are wheat, potatoes, corn, soy, peanuts, cotton, canola, almonds, beet sugar. Worst unnatural food ingredients on my list are high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, carrageenan, guar gum and other thickeners.
Another fact: Most clothes, towels and bedding have been sprayed with pesticides and antifungals. Always wash new items before using them the first time.
Good health to you!