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Triacetin sources, health risks

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by

Triacetin is a type of triglyceride that contains strong anti-fungal properties, according to the open chemistry database Pub Chem. The database entry reveals that the chemical naturally occurs in fruits, especially in papaya. Triacetin belongs to the family of carboxylic acid esters and is classified as the triester of glycerol and acetylating agents including acetic acid and acetic anhydride.

An article featured on the Food Sweeteners website also notes that triacetin is a colorless liquid that is traditionally used as a flavoring solvent in a variety of baked products, beverages, and chewing gum as well as dairy desserts and humectants. Likewise, the article cautioned that certain groups of people — such as newborns, children, pregnant women, and people with allergies — may have negative reactions toward the food additive. It is advisable to consult a physician before taking the compound, the entry stresses.

Harmful effects that can be caused by triacetin

A safety data sheet published by the Lakeland University in Wisconsin discusses that exposure to triacetin may cause a plethora of medical emergencies. According to the info sheet, triacetin is notoriously detrimental to the respiratory tract and may cause severe irritation in the airways. People who have inhaled the harmful compound should be brought to an area with fresh air. Likewise, it is advisable to perform artificial respiration if the person falls unconscious following the exposure. It is also recommended to seek medical assistance when such an event occurs. The entry highlights the importance of wearing personal protective equipment to prevent exposure and inhalation.

Triacetin is also particularly detrimental to the digestive system. Exposure to the toxic substance may induce a plethora of digestive woes, the safety guidelines indicate. The safety data sheet discourages giving anything by mouth to victims who fall unconscious after ingesting the hazardous food additive. It is advisable to immediately wash the person’s mouth with running water and consult a physician afterwards.

Exposure to the toxic chemical may lead to severe skin irritation too. The safety data sheet recommends that people exposed to the toxic compound should immediately wash the skin with soap and plenty of water. Likewise, the safety guidelines advise that affected patients seek medical attention following the exposure. The entry also recommends using gloves and protective clothing in order to prevent skin exposure.

The entry has stressed that the harmful flavoring agent may negatively affect eye health as well. According to the safety data sheet, triacetin exposure may cause severe eye irritation. People exposed to the toxic substance are advised to wash the eyes with water as a precautionary measure. It is also recommended that patients immediately consult a physician. The guidelines call for eye protection equipment to avoid eye exposure.

Moreover, an entry featured on the Toxicology Data Network website has cited various animal studies indicating that triacetin exposure may be detrimental to various organs including  the liver, spleen, heart, and  kidneys. The harmful chemical is also shown to cause excessive weight gain in animal models, the entry notes.

Body systems harmed by triacetin

Triacetin is particularly harmful to the respiratory system’s overall health. Likewise, the toxic substance is detrimental to both eye and skin health. The food additive may also negatively affect the digestive tract. Previous animal studies have also noted that triacetin may cause damage to the liver, spleen, heart, and  kidneys.

Where to learn more


Triacetin may cause severe respiratory tract irritation.

Triacetin may trigger eye irritation and skin conditions.

Triacetin exposure may result in various digestive illnesses.

Triacetin may cause damage to the liver, spleen, heart, and  kidneys.

Triacetin is particularly detrimental to the respiratory system’s overall health.

Triacetin damages both the eyes and the skin.

Triacetin negatively affects the digestive system.

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