E Numbers are simply artificial food additives, like colourants, flavourants, antioxidants, preservatives, stabilisers, thickeners etc.Each of these additives is given a corresponding “E Number” that adheres to an international numbering system, so that their use in food can be regulated. There are literally thousands of them, and unfortunately they are not all free of animal products. As we know, it is not often that we are afforded clear, non-ambiguous labelling, indicating whether a product is suitable for consumption by Vegetarians and Vegans, which is fine, it’s not too difficult to scan the ingredients on the packaging of the products one buys. But it is slightly more difficult to judge whether or not the additives contain animal products when they are listed by their E Numbers.Below is a list of E Numbers derived from animal products. In some instances, they may have been synthesised in labs, and may not be derived from actual animal products, but finding out where and how the additives in a particular product were manufactured is often difficult to do. Any E Numbers not listed, are generally considered safe for Vegetarian and/or Vegan consumption. E Numbers definitely containing animal products/derivatives:E120 - Cochineal (crushed scale of Dactylopius Coccus, a type of cactus beetle)E441 - Gelatine (animal hoof/skin)E542 - Bone PhosphateE631 - Disodium inosinate (fish derivative)E635 - Disodium ribonucleotidesE901 - BeeswaxE904 - Shellac (insect origin)E966 - Lactitol (milk derivative)E1105 - Lysozyme (found in egg whites)
E Numbers possibly containing animal products/derivatives: (unfortunately it is not generally stated as to whether these additives are synthesised or derived from animal products, but it is fair to assume that in some cases they contain animal products)E104 - Quinoline YellowE160 - Alpha-, beta-, gamma caroteneE161 - CanthaxanthinE252 - Potassium NitrateE270 - Lactic AcidE304 - Ascorbyl PalmitateE304 - Ascorbyl StearateE322 - Lecithin (may be made from eggs)E325 - Sodium LactateE326 - Potassium LactateE327 - Calcium LactateE422 - Glycerol/GlycerinE(430 – 436) - PolyoxyethylenesE442 - Ammonium PhosphotidesE445 - Glycerol esters of wood resinE470(a) - Sodium, potassium and calcium salts of fatty acidsE470(b) - Magnesium salts of fatty acidsE471 - Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids E472(a) - Acetic acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE472(b) - Lactic acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE472(c) - Citric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE472(d) - Tartaric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE472(e) - Mono- and di-acetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE472(f) - Mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acidsE473 - contains fatty acidsE474 - SucroglyceridesE475 - Polyglycerol esters of fatty acidsE476 - Polyglycerol esters of polycondensed fatty acids of caster oilE477 - contains fatty acids E479(b) - contains fatty acidsE481 - Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylateE482 - Calcium stearoyl-2-lactylateE483 - Stearyl tartrateE(491 – 495) - SorbitanE570 - Stearic acidE585 - Ferrous LactateE640 - Glycine and its sodium saltE920 - L-cysteine and L-cysteine hydrochlorideE1518 - Glycerol
If you are unsure as to whether an additive is of animal origin, get hold of the manufacturer, who will most likely be able to tell you.
For a more extensive list and more information on E Numbers, check out these sites:
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