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‘Oils, vegetables, deodorizer distillates’ is composed mainly of glycerides, fatty acids and unsaponifiable matter (e.g. tocopherols, sterols, sterol esters and squalene). The following section discusses the human health effects of the substance. This section also includes information on the individual constituents: glycerides, fatty acids and unsaponifiable matters (UMs) including tocopherols, phytosterols and squalene.

Glycerides, also known as acylglycerols, are esters formed from glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol has three hydroxyl functional groups, which can be esterified with one, two or three fatty acids to form mono-, di- and tri-glycerides. Vegetable oils contain mostly triglycerides. Both glycerides and fatty acids have essential functions in plants and animals and are widely used in nutritional (food and feed), cosmetic and/or industrial applications. Their toxicology is well known and has been extensively reviewed.

The tocopherols are a family of methylated phenols that are present naturally in many foodstuffs (especially in oils and fats). The main compounds are a-,b-,g- and d- tocopherol as well as the corresponding less saturated a-,b- ,g- and d- tocotrienols. They show both antioxidant and vitamin E activity but also have numerous other functions in the body (Tomassi and Silano, 1986). Tocopherols find their application mainly in nutrition and cosmetics. In the United States, tocopherols are generally recognised as safe (GRAS) for use in foods as chemical preservatives. α-tocopherol is commonly added to food products and denoted by the E number E307. Tocopherol and its several ester and ether derivatives are used as antioxidants in cosmetic formulations; they also have other functions, such as skin conditioning (Fiume, 2002). The toxicology of tocopherols has been reviewed by several groups, including Tomassi and Silano (1986), the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA, 1987) and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel (Fiume, 2002).

Plant sterols (phytosterols) are mainly lipophilic, naturally-occurring compounds that are structurally related to cholesterol but differ in their side chain substitution at the C24 position. The major plant sterols are b-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol and avenasterol. They are either found in free form, esterified to fatty acids (sterol esters) or as steryl glycosides. Plant sterols and sterol esters have applications in medicine, cosmetics and as food ingredients intended to reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in blood. The cholesterol- inhibiting effect is probably linked to competition for the cholesterol space in mixed micelles, which are the form of lipid delivery for absorption into the mucosal cells. In the context of approvals for food use,their toxicology has been reviewed by the European Scientific Committee on Food in a series of opinions (SCF 2000, 2002 and 2003) as well as by the Australia-New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA, 2001).

Squalene is a triterpene produced by all plants and animals, including humans. It is a constituent of the liver of higher animals and a direct precursor of cholesterol, steroid hormones and vitamin D in the human body. Squalene has been proposed to be an important part of the Mediterranean diet due to its chemopreventative properties. It is used in a variety of cosmetics and, in this context, its toxicology has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (CIR, 1982).

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