E472e Datem - another emulsifier to avoid

DATEM aka E472e – common emulsifier linked to heart fibrosis and adrenal overgrowth

An emulsifier in bread is an optional ingredient which helps combine oils and waters that wouldn’t normally mix well together. We’re told they’re added mainly to improve the bread texture, but I suspect the reality is that it’s rather just a very cheap and easy way of vastly extending the shelf life of bread.

If you’ve ever made your own bread at home, you may know that, in its simplest form, bread only needs two ingredients – flour and water. To this you can add yeast and salt. To improve the taste, texture and rise you can also include milk, sugar or butter, but that’s about it for a standard loaf of bread. The problem is, though, this loaf goes stale in a few days. Supermarket bread, on the other hand, has to remain ‘fresh’ for much longer – from factory production to the distribution warehouse to the supermarket warehouse to the shelf. Unless the shop bakes their bread in-house, it’s very difficult to get fresh bread onto the shelves using modern production methods. And even if that were possible, if the bread isn’t sold quickly, it has to be thrown out. So you can see why bread producers might look for a solution to improve the longevity of their bread products.

DATEM (often listed in ingredients as E472e) is an acronym of Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (sounds delicious, eh!) and is produced industrially by esterification with tartaric and acetic acids or by a reaction with diacetyl tartaric acid. It’s cheap, improves the texture of the bread, but most importantly from the perspective of those who profit from the sale, it massively extends the shelf life. If you eat a loaf, it won’t kill you – straight away – however, DATEM and similar emulsifiers have been linked to some very serious adverse health effects such as heart fibrosis, cardiovascular disease and adrenal overgrowth.

Which specific products should I avoid?

  • Most bread and ready-made sandwiches sold in supermarkets – especially bread sold in plastic but also some supermarket bakery bread
  • Some ready-made pizzas such as Pizza Express American Pepperoni or Tomato Stuffed Crust Takeaway Loaded Cheese Pizza from Chicago Town 
  • Some breakfast products such as Belvita breakfast Cereals and Milk Biscuits
  • Some powered drinks such as Belgian choc honecomb from Options or Alcafè vanilla latte or Trader Joes Gingerbread Coffee
  • Powdered soups such as Instant tomato soup from Batchelors
  • Ready-made Christmas puddings such as Holly Lane Connoisseur Christmas Pudding

Further reading

Food additive emulsifiers and risk of cardiovascular disease in the NutriNet-Santé cohort: prospective cohort study (BMJ website) – https://www.bmj.com/content/382/bmj-2023-076058.short

Products containing E472e – https://uk.openfoodfacts.org/additive/e472e-mono-and-diacetyltartaric-acid-esters-of-mono-and-diglycerides-of-fatty-acids

Emulsifiers in ultra-processed foods in the UK food supply (Cambridge University Press) – https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/emulsifiers-in-ultraprocessed-foods-in-the-uk-food-supply/293F7C94E4AA4D4EFA30205FB68E5563


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