Food additive intakes have increased with the increase in "ultra-processed" food consumption. Food additive emulsifiers have received particular research attention in recent years due to preliminary evidence of adverse gastrointestinal and metabolic health effects. In this review, the use of emulsifiers as food additives is discussed, and the current estimations of exposure to, and safety of, emulsifiers are critically assessed. Food additive emulsifier research is complicated by heterogeneity in additives considered to be emulsifiers and labelling of them on foods globally. Major limitations exist in estimating food additive emulsifier exposure, relating predominantly to a lack of available food occurrence and concentration data. Development of brand-specific food additive emulsifier databases are crucial to accurately estimating emulsifier exposure. Current research on the health effects of food additive emulsifiers are limited to in vitro and murine studies and small, acute studies in humans, and future research should focus on controlled human trials of longer duration.

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