Why Is Propylene Glycol Banned In Europe

Propylene Glycol Banned In Europe

While propylene glycol might seem like a harmless food additive, there have been multiple reports online that it has been banned in Europe. The article below takes a deeper look into the matter and provides possible reasons why this could be the case.


What Is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic substance that belongs to the same chemical group as alcohol. It is made up of three carbon atoms, a few hydrogen’s and two hydroxyl groups. It is colorless in nature and has a syrup like texture. Propylene glycol has the ability to retain moisture and it can also dissolve other substances better than water. Propylene glycol is commonly used as a food additive where it works as an emulsifier and a preservative. It can also be used when making skin products and medicines.

Why Is Propylene Glycol Banned In Europe

NB: Europe has rules that limit the amount of propylene glycol that can be added to flavorings, food stuffs and beverages. Therefore, propylene glycol is not banned in Europe it’s just there have laws put in place to limit peoples intake of the product as compared to other continents. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why Europe has put polices to ban excessive use of propylene glycol and also why people have been circulating false rumors.

Causes Allergies When Consumed In Excess

Although, propylene glycol is safe for consumption, research shows that excessive consumption of the product can cause allergies. In order to avoid this, Europe banned the excessive use of propylene glycol. They only allow a maximum of 0.1% propylene glycol to be added to food stuffs and beverages whereas in the USA the maximum is 5%.

Confused With Ethylene Glycol

Another reason why there have been multiple rumors that propylene glycol has been banned in Europe is because people confuse it with ethylene glycol which is toxic to humans. Normally ethylene glycol is used when making antifreeze and it can be substituted with propylene glycol. This forced people to start thinking that ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are the same thing when in fact they contain different atomic compounds. To make matters worse, ethylene glycol is toxic so people thought that since they contain similar properties they are both toxic. Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol are used interchangeably when making antifreeze because they both have a low melting point.

May Cause Prolonged Illness To People With Kidney And Liver Problems

Another reason why people think that propylene glycol is banned in Europe is because research shows that it may cause prolonged illness to people with kidney and liver problems. This is because people with kidney and liver problems are not able to clear propylene glycol from their bloodstream as effectively as possible. Therefore, if they consume large doses of it, there is a chance that they will develop toxicity from the substance.

Potential Of Causing Harm To Infants And Pregnant Mothers

Another common reason why Europe banned excessive use of propylene glycol is because it possess as a threat to the overall health of infants and pregnant mothers. This is because infants and pregnant mothers have a low level of alcohol dehydrogenase which is an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of propylene glycol. Therefore, if infants and pregnant mothers consume this substance in excess, there is a high chance that they will start developing symptoms of toxicity.

Causes Skin Allergies

Propylene glycol is known to cause skin allergies especially when used in cosmetics. Although there have been few reports, the rumors spreading online are indicating that Propylene glycol was banned in Europe because it causes skin allergies. If you uses skin products that contain propylene glycol just try to observe how they react to your skin. If you are reacting its best to discontinue use.

Why Is Propylene Glycol Controversial?

Propylene glycol is controversial because it is believed to cause allergies when consumed in excess. Furthermore, the controversy was fuelled even more when Europe decided to introduce policies that limit the amount of propylene glycol that can be added to beverages, food stuffs and cosmetics. Another popular reason why propylene glycol is controversial is because it is confused with ethylene glycol a toxic substance used when making antifreeze.

What Are The Dangers Of Propylene Glycol?

When propylene glycol is consumed in excess, there is a danger that it can cause toxicity in humans. Some of the effects of consuming excessive amounts of propylene glycol include nausea, headaches, seizures, damages to the central nervous system and hemolysis. Infants and pregnant women are encouraged to limit their intake of propylene glycol since they have a low level of alcohol dehydrogenase which enables them to breakdown propylene glycol in their bodies.

What Common Foods Contain Propylene Glycol?

There are a number of food stuffs that you will find on the market which contain propylene glycol. This is one of the main reasons it’s important to always check the ingredients label so that you are fully aware of what you are taking in. Below is a list of some of the popular foods that contain propylene glycol.

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Powdered drink mixes
  • Seasoning blends
  • Dried soups
  • Soft drinks
  • Flavored teas
  • Salad dressings
  • Food coloring
  • Cake and muffin mixes
  • Flavoring extracts
  • Sauces
  • Salad cream
  • Cheese
  • Marshmallows
  • Highly processed snacks

Is Propylene Glycol Harmful To Humans?

No, propylene glycol is not harmful to humans, it is actually added to a number of foods. Propylene glycol is approved for use by the FDA, WHO and other bodies across the world. It is worth pointing that while propylene glycol is not harmful to humans, certain individuals may experience allergic reactions. Therefore, it’s always good to be observant after consuming propylene glycol so that you can be able to see if you are reacting to the product.


Propylene glycol is not banned in Europe, it’s just that Europe has rules set in place that limit people’s intake of the product. If you experience any allergic reactions please make sure you seek medical help.

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