E Numbers 101

The following list has been compiled with the help of the Vegetarian Society website. Like all lists on Bunny Beautiful it is a work in progress so leave your question or additions in the comments below!

For offline and on-the-go use you can download a PDF version of this list here: E Numbers 101.

E-numbers are additives. The ‘E’ stands for European and means that these additives have been tested for safety and been assessed for use in the European Union (EU). Each E-number is assigned its own unique number making it easier for manufacturers to list, which are included in foods.

The numbering system also helps keep track as they are grouped into various categories:

  • Colourings (100-118)
  • Antioxidants (300-340)
  • Flavour Enhancers (600-650)
  • Glazing Agents (900-910)

ENumbers101

E-numbers which are never suitable for vegetarians:

  • E120 – Cochineal/carmine, this red colouring is isolated from crushed insects; Coccus cacti.
  • E542 – Edible bone phosphate, from animal bones.

E-numbers which are unsuitable for vegans:

  • E901 – Beeswax, made by bees but does not contain insects.
  • E904 – Shellac, natural polymer derived from lac beetles.
  • E913 – Lanolin, a wax from sheep excreted by the skin of sheep and extracted from the wool.
  • E966 – Lactitol, made from milk sugar.
  • E1105 – Lysozyme, from chicken eggs.

Possibly Non-Vegetarian and Non-Vegan E-Numbers – Always check the source!

  • E101 – Riboflavin; yellow food colour, which can be isolated from milk but can be commercially produced from micro-organisms, such as yeast.
  • E161(g) – Canthaxanthin, commercially prepared from mushrooms/flamingo feathers, mainly produced synthetically from carotene.
  • E270 – Lactic acid and lactates, all fermented products (dairy and non-dairy) contain this as a result of bacterial fermentation. Commercially produced by bacterial fermentation on starch and molasses.
  • E304 – Ascorbyl palmitate, combination of the fatty acid palmitate with ascorbic acid occurs naturally in most fruits and vegetables. Palmitic acid is produced from fat, the main source is vegetable fat but it can be obtained from animal fat.
  • E322 – Lecithin, commercially isolated (mainly) from soybeans or egg yolk (may be made from caged hens).
  • E325 – Sodium lactate, sodium salt of lactic acid (E270).
  • E326 – Potassium lactate, potassium salt of lactic acid (E270).
  • E327 – Calcium lactate, calcium salt of lactic acid (E270).
  • E422 – Glycerol/Glycerin, a natural carbohydrate alcohol. Commercially produced either synthetically from propene, or by bacterial fermentation of sugars.
  • E431 to 436 – These compounds (E430-E436) contain fatty acids, which are mostly obtained from vegetable oils. However, there is the possibility that animal fats may be used.
  • E442 – Ammonium phosphatides, obtained from ammonia and phosphorylated fatty acids, mostly derived from rapeseed oil.
  • E470 – Fatty acid salts, derived mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E471 – Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids, produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids, derived mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E472 – Esters of mono- and di – glycerides, esters of synthetic fats, produced from glycerol, natural fatty acids and another organic acid (acetic, lactic, tartaric, citric). The fats are obtained mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E473 – Sugar esters of fatty acid, produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids. The fats are obtained mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E474- Sugar glycerides, esters of sugar and fats, produced from sugar and natural fats. The fats are obtained mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E475 – Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids; a combination of polyglycerol and natural fats. Normal fat consists of glycerol and fatty acids, for these products additional glycerol is coupled to the normal glycerol. Combination of polyglycerol and natural fats. The fats are obtained mainly from plant origin, but animal fats may be used.
  • E479 – Esterified soy oil, produced by heating soy-oil in the presence of free fatty acids. The fatty acids are mainly from plant origin, but fats of animal origin may be used.
  • E481 – Sodium stearoyl lactate, combination of stearic acid and lactic acid, resulting in a mixture of several components. Stearic acid can be derived from both plant and animal fats.
  • E482 – Calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate, combination of calcium, stearic acid and lactic acid, resulting in a mixture of several components. The origin of stearic acid can be either plant or animal fat.
  • E483 – Stearyl tartrate, combination of stearic acid and tartaric acid, the origin of stearic acid can be from plant or animal fats.
  • E491 to 495, Sorbitans, produced from sorbitol and varying acids, these are normal fatty acids derived from vegetable or animal origin.
  • E570 – Stearic acid, a normal part of any fat.
  • E631- Sodium inositate, sodium salt of inosinic acid, a natural acid mainly present in animals. It is commercially prepared from meat/fish but may also be produced by bacterial fermentation of sugars.
  • E635 – Sodium ribonucleotides, a mixture of sodium salts of guanylic and inosinic acid.
  • E640 – Glycines, originally isolated from gelatine but can be prepared synthetically.
  • E920 – L-cysteine, essential amino acid derived from proteins.

Animal derived carriers

There are some additives that are not derived from animal sources themselves but may involve the use of gelatine as a carrier:

  • E104 – Quinoline yellow, synthetic non azo dye.
  • E160a(i) – Carotenes (mixture), these are natural colours isolated from plants.
  • E160a(ii) – Beta Carotene.