INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME ON CHEMICAL SAFETY
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
TOXICOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF SOME
FOOD COLOURS, EMULSIFIERS, STABILIZERS,
ANTI-CAKING AGENTS AND CERTAIN
FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series
No. 46A WHO/FOOD ADD/70.36
The content of this document is the result of the deliberations of the
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives which met in Rome,
27 May - 4 June 19691
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World Health Organization
1 Thirteenth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food
Additives, FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series, in press;
Wld Hlth Org. techn. Rep. Ser., in press.
These partially methoxylated polygalacturonic acids occur naturally
and widely in fruits especially citrus fruits and apples and are part
of the cell walls. They are therefore part of the normal diet. At one
time they have been used as plasma extenders but large intravenous
doses have led to pectin deposition in the kidney, liver and lung with
consequential degenerative changes (Merck Index, 1968) - pectin has
been shown to lower blood cholesterol in man (Keys et al., 1961) and
in the rat (Wells & Ershoff, 1961). Four groups of three male and
three female pigs were given diets for four weeks supplemented with
either five per cent. pectin or five per cent. cellulose with or
without dietary cholesterol. Pectin had no effect on body weight or
plasma cholesterol level unless cholesterol was given in the diet.
Pectin lowered significantly alimentary hypercholesterolaemia (Fisher
et al., 1966). Chicken fed cholesterol in the diet excrete more
cholesterol if pectin is also added. Pectin has no effect on
endogenous plasma cholesterol or may raise the level (Fisher et al.,
1964). The digestibility of pectin was determined in groups of six
rats fed 17.4 per cent. or 34.8 per cent. pectin in their diet for
three weeks. At the lower dietary level there was no adverse effect on
the utilization of other nutrients but at the higher level utilization
of other nutrients was reduced. Pectin produced diarrhoea and growth
was retarded at both dietary levels. Faecal recovery showed only 20
per cent. of orally ingested pectin to be digestible (Carey, 1958).
Rat. Rats were fed 2.5-10 per cent. pectin without any deleterious
effects (Ershoff & McWillians, 1945).
Pectins and their salts as specified are normal constituents of the
human diet and have also been administered intravenously at high
levels without acute toxic effects. Little formal animal testing has
been carried out but in view of the very long human experience seems
not to be necessary.
Not limited except for good manufacturing practice.
Carey, P. L. (1958) Thesis submitted to Purdue University
Ershoff, B. H. & McWilliams, H. B. (1945) Amer. J. dig. Dis., 12, 21
Fisher, H. et al. (1964) Science, 146, 1063
Fisher, H. et al. (1965) J. Nutr., 86, 113
Fisher, H. et al. (1960) J. Atheroscler. Res., 6, 190
Keys, A., Grande, F. & Anderson, J. T. (1961) Proc. Soc. exp. Biol.
(N.Y.), 106, 555
Merck Index (1968)