Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that is commonly used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. It has a wide range of applications due to its properties as a solvent, humectant, and preservative. However, the use of propylene glycol as a food additive has been a topic of controversy for several years, and its use is banned in several countries, including Europe. This article will explore the reasons why propylene glycol is banned in Europe.
Propylene glycol (PG) is a colorless and odorless substance that is derived from petroleum. It is used as a solvent, humectant, and emulsifier in a variety of products, including processed foods, medicines, and cosmetics. It is also used as a primary ingredient in e-liquid used for vaping.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified PG as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food, and it is approved for use in over-the-counter medicines and cosmetics. However, in Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has classified propylene glycol as an “acceptable daily intake” (ADI) substance, which means that it can be used in certain quantities but has some potential risks associated with it.
The primary reason that propylene glycol is banned in Europe is its potential health risks. One of the main concerns is that PG can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. In some cases, it can cause contact dermatitis, a condition that results in skin rashes, itching, and redness. Propylene glycol is also known to cause respiratory problems in sensitive individuals, including asthma, bronchitis, and other lung diseases.
Another concern is that propylene glycol is a potential carcinogen. Studies have shown that high doses of PG can cause cancer in laboratory animals, although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood. While the risks to humans are not yet fully known, the potential for long-term exposure to PG to increase the risk of cancer cannot be ruled out.
In addition to its potential health risks, propylene glycol has also been linked to environmental concerns. When propylene glycol is disposed of improperly, it can have a negative impact on aquatic life and the environment. It has been found to be toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms, and it can also contaminate groundwater if it seeps into the soil.
While the use of propylene glycol is still legal in the United States, the European Union has taken a more cautious approach to its use. The EFSA has established strict guidelines on the use of PG in food and other products, and the substance is banned outright in certain applications. For example, PG is not allowed to be used in infant formula, and it is not permitted in any food products that are intended for young children or pregnant women.
In conclusion, the primary reason that propylene glycol is banned in Europe is due to its potential health risks and environmental concerns. While it is considered safe in small quantities, high doses can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and may even increase the risk of cancer. While the use of propylene glycol is still legal in the United States, the European Union has taken a more cautious approach and has restricted its use in certain applications.