Group: E400–E499 (thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers)
Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (sodium stearoyl lactylate or SSL) is a versatile, FDA approved food additive used to improve the mix tolerance and volume of processed foods. It is one type of a commercially available lactylate. SSL is non-toxic, biodegradable, and typically manufactured using biorenewable feedstocks. Because SSL is a safe and highly effective food additive, it is used in a wide variety of products ranging from baked goods and desserts to pet foods.
As described by the Food Chemicals Codex 7th edition, SSL is a cream-colored powder or brittle solid. SSL is currently manufactured by the esterification of stearic acid with lactic acid and partially neutralized with either food-grade soda ash (sodium carbonate) or caustic soda (concentrated sodium hydroxide). Commercial grade SSL is a mixture of sodium salts of stearoyl lactylic acids and minor proportions of other sodium salts of related acids. The HLB for SSL is 10-12. SSL is slightly hygroscopic, soluble in ethanol and in hot oil or fat, and dispersible in warm water. These properties are the reason that SSL is an excellent emulsifier for fat-in-water emulsions and can also function as a humectant.
SSL finds widespread application in baked goods, pancakes, waffles, cereals, pastas, instant rice, desserts, icings, fillings, puddings, toppings, sugar confectionaries, powdered beverage mixes, creamers, cream liqueurs, dehydrated potatoes, snack dips, sauces, gravies, chewing gum, dietetic foods, minced and diced canned meats, mostarda di frutta, and pet food. Approved uses and maximum use levels in the United States are described in 21 CFR 172.846 and 21 CFR 177.120. In the European Union, the approved uses and maximum use levels are described in Regulation (EC) No 95/2.
Lactylates, including SSL, have been subjected to extensive safety evaluations prior to being FDA approved for use as a food additive. The oral LD50 of SSL for rats was established by Schuler and Thornton in 1952 as being over 25 g/kg body weight. In 2010, Lamb established the no-observed-adverse-effect level of SSL at 5 % of the total diet and recommended an acceptable daily intake of 22.1 mg/kg bw/day for human consumption.