Are emulsifiers bad? Not enough evidence to say we should stop eating them

Dominic Partridge, Alexandra Johnstone

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Food additives do a lot of good: they prolong shelf life, improve taste and texture, and add colour to otherwise unappealing products. They are also highly controversial and garner a lot of media attention. But are additives really bad for your health, or are headlines like “E-numbers in ice cream ‘could increase YOUR risk of bowel cancer’” just fear-mongering?

Food additives go through careful testing before they are allowed in food and drink, and many countries have regulatory bodies to assess their safety. But recent work in cell cultures and animals suggests that eating a common type of food additive, called emulsifiers, can harm the gut microbiome, increasing gut permeability – commonly known as “leaky gut”.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Dominic Partridge has previously been funded by the BBSRC, and his current position is funded by the MRC.

Alex Johnstone receives funding from the Medical Research Council, The University of Aberdeen, The Scottish Government, Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Health Service Endowments award, Tennovus Charity, Chief Scientist Office and European Community.


  • Food Additives
  • Gut microbiome
  • Emulsifiers


Dive into the research topics of 'Are emulsifiers bad? Not enough evidence to say we should stop eating them'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this