Emulsifier and its Significant Contribution in the Philippines’ Food Industry



Making new products, particularly in the food industry, generally requires the combination of a wide range of ingredients.

For example, suppose you’re making a basic salad dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. However, you quickly realize that you can’t get these two ingredients to match. This is because oil and water do not mix properly. What you should do is keep stirring the mixture or add another ingredient to blend them into one. Both jobs, however, used to require more time, effort, and resources

Is there a method that allows manufacturers to easily combine oil and water? To discover the answer, you simply have to look carefully at the labels of different salad dressings and sauces, where you’ll see the words “emulsifying agent” or “emulsifier.” This is the magic ingredient that keeps the mixtures from splitting.

You may be intimidated by the term “emulsifier,” because it seems like a complicated chemical, but you don’t have to be. For a long time, an emulsifier has been used as a stabilizer to ensure that fused molecules of ingredients do not separate from one another.


What is an Emulsifier?


An emulsifier, also known as an emulgent, is a kind of compound that belongs to the surface-active agents or surfactants class. They work by lowering the surface tension at the interface of two usually incompatible phases, allowing them to combine and form an emulsion.

This component also promotes emulsion stability, maintains aerated structures, and regulates fat globule stabilization. It modifies the appearance, shelf life, and other essential properties of foods by complexing with starch and protein ingredients. An emulsifier also enhances the texture of fat-based foods by controlling the structures of fats.

An emulsifier, which gives body to sauces and other liquids and texturizers, is a perfect addition to increase the quality of food products. It also has a dual purpose by improving the appearance of the food and extending its shelf life. Aside from that, an emulsifier is used in manufacturing products for other industries, including cosmetics, skincare, and pharmaceuticals.


The Process of Emulsification and How It Works


To truly comprehend how the process of emulsification works, you must first understand what an emulsion is. An emulsion is a dispersion, as it is a combination of two liquids that cannot be combined. To emulsify, two liquids are forced to mix in a suspension and dissolve in each other to form a smooth, homogeneous solution.

Two dissimilar liquids, on the other hand, cannot create an emulsion on their own. This is where an emulsifier comes in handy. The emulsifier is composed of a fat-soluble and a water-soluble component. The fat-soluble component adheres to the liquid, while the water-soluble component adheres to the water, forming a shield around the droplets.

After that, the emulsifier covers the droplets and holds them apart. This is because if the droplets are left on their own, they will clump together, causing the emulsion to disperse.


What are the Different Types of Emulsifiers?


There are several varieties of emulsifiers that are used in different materials. Some of the most popular emulsifiers are known as lecithin, casein, fatty acid derivatives, ammonium phosphatide (AMP), and mono and diglycerides.




Lecithin is a fat that is needed by the body’s cells. Apart from being used in the production of medicines, it is commonly used in the commercial baking industry and can be found in a variety of foods such as soybeans and egg yolks.

When lecithin is applied to a food mixture, the amount of healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol increases, and oil droplets in water are protected. This improves the food’s quality and shelf life.

Aside from its emulsifying role, lecithin has an array of health benefits. It reduces elevated cholesterol and cirrhosis caused by alcohol consumption, and it helps improve nerve, brain, and muscle functions.




Casein is an emulsifier that is a member of the phosphate-containing proteins or phosphoproteins present in milk. It is also the main protein in cheese and is readily digested by enzymes in young mammals.

This substance is obtained by adding an acid or the enzyme rennet and is used to produce plastics, cosmetics, paper coatings, adhesives, paints, clothing, cheese, and animal feed.


Fatty Acid Derivatives


Fatty acids can be used to make a variety of emulsifiers. Polyglycerol esters (PGEs), polysorbates, stearoyl lactylates, propylene glycol esters (PGMs), and sucrose esters are the most popular emulsifiers derived from fatty acids.

PGEs are commonly used in sweets such as cakes, icings, and chewing gum. PGMs, on the other hand, are mostly applied in toppings such as whipped cream. Sucrose esters are often used to hold particles of other food products such as coffee and sauces.

Combining lactic acid and stearic acid yields sodium stearoyl lactate. The sodium or calcium salt is formed by combining the byproduct with sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. It is widely used as a dough strengthener in pastries as an emulsifier, making it essential for bakers. It also keeps the taste of freshly baked bread and enhances the gluten.

Polysorbates works well as an emulsifier in salad dressings and ice cream. This agent is also commonly used in cosmetics to make natural oils soluble in water-based products.


Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR)


Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), also known as code E-476, is a food additive used as an emulsifier in tin-greasing emulsions for the baking industry and the manufacture of low-fat spreads. It is mostly utilized in the chocolate processing because its viscosity-modifying properties enhance the molding properties of molten chocolate. Additionally, it reduces the fat bloom.

Polyglycerol polyricinoleate is produced by polymerizing glycerol and polymerizing ricinoleic acid. It is also well regarded in the food industry as an excellent water-in-oil emulsifier due to its very stable emulsions even though the water content is very high. It may also be used alone or in combination with monoglycerides to achieve the best quality-to-cost ratio.

This emulsifier is needed for the smooth flow of chocolate coatings during the enrobing process. When applied, polyglycerol polyricinoleate improves the efficiency of chocolate coating processes as well as the performance of solid molded product machinery. As a result, the chocolate spills more naturally into the mold, surrounds inclusions, and releases trapped air.

It may also be used to reduce the amount of cocoa butter required in chocolate recipes. The solid particles in chocolate are suspended in the cocoa butter. By reducing the viscosity of the chocolate, less cocoa butter is required. This saves money because cocoa butter is a costly commodity. Lastly, using polyglycerol polyricinoleate results in a lower-fat product.


Ammonium Phosphatide (AMP)


Ammonium phosphatide is derived from sunflowers and has long been used as the ideal substitute for lecithin in the production of chocolate and vegetable fat-based coatings.

The aim of developing ammonium phosphatide was to find a replacement for soya bean lecithin in chocolate products. This is due to the properties of lecithin, which decrease the viscosity of molten chocolate.

It provides other beneficial properties to chocolate products, including neutral taste at high dosages and the ability to reduce plastic viscosity without raising yield value. Ammonium phosphatide is also easy to work with because it does not thicken at temperatures below 40°C. This emulsifier is mostly water-free and has high microbiological protection since it achieves temperatures of more than 14°C during processing.

Aside from cocoa, ammonium phosphatide has been used in a variety of other applications. It improves the amount and consistency of white bread. This ingredient will also improve the texture and taste of chewing gum.


Mono-and Diglycerides


Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids are naturally occurring types of food additives made of diglycerides and monoglycerides. The two ingredients have no daily limit and are used as a fruit coating agent. This mixture is also known as partial glycerides.

These two substances can be found in a variety of seed oils. However, their concentration is typically low, and their industrial processing is mainly accomplished by a glycerolysis reaction involving triglycerides and glycerol. Their raw materials may be either vegetable or animal fats and oils.

Under the alpha crystalline formation, monoglycerides and diglycerides remain solid. Because of their versatility, they perform well in whipped foams when controlling fat agglomeration. When water molecules must be distributed in a fat phase, these two act as instruments that evenly distribute water into the oil.

Monoglycerides and diglycerides in chocolate goods provide the sensation that the chocolate is melting inside your mouth. They ensure that the processed bulk is smooth and consistent. Through their help, the crystalline structure of the food becomes balanced.




Protein may also serve as an emulsifier by creating a film or skin around oil droplets scattered in water. This approach avoids systemic modifications like coalescence, creaming, flocculation, and sedimentation. The hydrophilicity ratio, as well as the structural restrictions that define the ease at which the proteins will unfold to form a film or skin around scattered oil droplets, influence the emulsifying properties of a protein.

In ice cream, for example, the emulsifier is protein derived from milk or eggs. The protein’s ability to interact with the air and fat phases can be determined by its side chains. Changing the protein affects not just the properties of the ice cream but also the relationship of the air and fat phases.


Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate


The sodium salt of stearic acid with lactic acid dimer is sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL), also known as sodium stearoyl-2-lactate. It is widely used in high-fat baking products as an emulsifier and stabilizer. When combined with calcium stearoyl lactylate, it is the second most common emulsifier in food applications after mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a compound composed of various essential components. Since the reaction is complex, impurities are purchased from raw materials or produced during production. It is made of three main components—sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, sodium stearoyl-1-lactylate, and sodium palmitoyl-1-lactylate.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate’s emulsifying and stabilizing properties are mostly used in food and cosmetic applications. This substance serves as a dough strengthener and crumb softener in baked goods when combined with water and oil. It is also applied as a viscosity enhancer and conditioner in cosmetics. Its solubility is present in ethanol, hot edible oils, and fats. However, it is insoluble in water until heated.

This ingredient is mostly used to improve the volume and achieve a finer crumb texture in high-fat and yeast-leavened bread. It is also needed to interact with flour in order to form gluten proteins or starch complexes. These create soft and elastic bread and prevent bread retrogradation.

Without sodium stearoyl lactylate, the loaf will become hardened. This substance is also used to enhance the taste and mouthfeel of cookies, crackers, pastries, and noodles, as well as to extend their freshness or shelf life. Sodium stearoyl lactylate is used in cookies and crackers to spread shortening evenly in the dough. It can also be mixed directly into the flour. You may also disperse it in warm water first, then combine it with flour to use.

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