Ascorbyl Palmitate | American Society of Baking
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Ascorbyl Palmitate

What is ascorbyl palmitate?

Ascorbyl palmitate is a food additive used as an antioxidant. It is an ester of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and palmitic acid.¹,²

  • In baking, ascorbyl palmitate is used as an antioxidant or preservant to improve product shelf life of fat-based systems, like frostings and fillings.
  • It may also be used as a functional ingredient to enrich foods with vitamin C. ¹,²

Origin

Ascorbyl palmitate (6-O-Palmitoyl- L -ascorbic acid) is obtained from the reaction of palmitic acid and L-ascorbic acid through chemical or enzymatic catalysis. It can also be obtained from the condensing reaction of palmitoyl chloride and ascorbic acid. ¹,²,³

Lloyd A Hall, an American chemist identified the antioxidant properties of ascorbyl palmitate and developed methods to use other antioxidants like citric acid, lecithin and propyl gallate to prevent food oxidation. ¹,²,³

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Function

Ascorbyl palmitate has several functions in bakery products: ¹,²,³

Benefits of ascorbyl palmitate in breadmaking include: ¹,²,³

Nutrition

Ascorbyl palmitate has similar health effects to ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). It is more bioavailable than ascorbic acid due to its liposoluble nature. Ascorbyl palmitate aids several physiological processes such as iron absorption and tissue repair. It can help decrease cancer and cardiovascular disease risk. ¹,²,³

Commercial production

Ascorbyl palmitate is commercially produced through the two following processes: 

Chemical process: ²

Enzymatic process:

Application

Ascorbyl palmitate is commonly used in fat-based systems such as fillings and frostings. However, positive effects have been found in bread making, just like ascorbic acid. 

Some considerations when working with ascorbyl palmitate: ¹,³

Levels of ascorbyl palmitate in some food products:¹

Product Usage level Effect
Animal fat 0.01-0.02% Combination with tocopherols and lecithin effectively retards oxidation in fatsA mix of 500 ppm ascorbyl palmitate and 100 ppm tocopherol decreases beef tallow oxidation
Vegetable fat 0.01-0.02% Enhances shelf life at 0.01%
Butter 0.001-0.02% Antioxidant
Whole milk powder 0.01-0.05% Stabilizes up to 6 months at 0.5%

Ascorbyl palmitate is more effective than butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and propyl gallate (PG) in vegetable oils. ¹

Regulations

Ascorbyl Palmitate is considered GRAS by the FDA, when used under the appropriate good manufacturing practices.4

In the EU, ascorbyl palmitate (E 304) is regulated by EU Commission Regulation No 1925/2006.5

References

  1. Madhavi, Dl L., S. S. Deshpande, and Dattajirao K. Salunkhe. Food antioxidants: Technological: Toxicological and health perspectives. CRC Press, 1995.
  2. EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS). “Scientific Opinion on the re‐evaluation of ascorbyl palmitate (E 304 (i)) and ascorbyl stearate (E 304 (ii)) as food additives.” EFSA Journal 13.11 (2015): 4289.
  3. Ensminger, Marion Eugene, and Audrey H. Ensminger. Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, Two Volume Set. CRC press, 1993.
  4. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). US Department of Health and Human Services. CFR Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Part 182 Substances Generally Recognized as Safe, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.3149. Accessed 14 September  2020.
  5. European Commission (EC). Commission Regulation NO1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December of 2006 on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain substances to foods . Official Journal of European Communities, 20 December 2006.