INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME ON CHEMICAL SAFETY
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
TOXICOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF SOME
FOOD COLOURS, EMULSIFIERS, STABILIZERS,
ANTI-CAKING AGENTS AND CERTAIN
FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series
No. 46A WHO/FOOD ADD/70.36
The content of this document is the result of the deliberations of the
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives which met in Rome,
27 May - 4 June 19691
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World Health Organization
1 Thirteenth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food
Additives, FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series, in press;
Wld Hlth Org. techn. Rep. Ser., in press.
Arabic gum is almost completely digested by guinea-pigs (O'Dell et
At dietary levels of less than 10 per cent., arabic gum is fully
absorbed with a caloric equivalent of four calories per gram (Shue et
No data available. Sensitivity reactions have been reported in man,
e.g. asthma in printers (Brown & Crepea, 1947; Bohner et al., 1941;
Sprague, 1942; Fowler, 1952).
Rat. Groups of rats were fed 0 per cent. or 15 per cent. arabic gum
in their diet for 62 days. A cathartic effect was observed but weight
gain, food efficiency, haematological findings and organ weights were
normal (Booth et al., 1963).
Guinea-pig. Groups of 10 and 20 guinea-pigs were fed 15 per cent.
powdered arabic gum for six weeks. Controls received no bulk food in
their diet. Weight gain was improved in the test groups (Booth et al.,
Rabbit. A group of four rabbits was given 20 per cent. arabic gum in
a casein diet for four weeks. Weight gain improved significantly in
the test groups (Hove & Herndon, 1957).
Dog. Three dogs were given 32-35 intravenous injections of acacia
over a period of 76 days at a total cumulative dosage ranging from
15.7-47.7 g/kg. The dog on the largest dose died with an enlarged
liver but unexplained cause of death four months after its last
injection. The other two dogs remained in good condition; biopsy
showed acacia present in their livers 26 months after their last
injections (Smalley et al., 1945).
Man. Nine patients with nephrotic edema received one to six
intravenous injections of acacia over periods up to eight weeks, with
total doses ranging from 80-325 g. There were no signs or symptoms of
liver enlargement, and no other complications. Five of these patients
excreted in the urine 5.5 per cent. to 38 per cent. of a single dose
during periods ranging from 10-30 days respectively (Johnson & Newman,
The biochemical information available is sparse but it has been
demonstrated in the rat that this gum is completely metabolized when
it comprises less than 10 per cent. of the diet. The substance has
been used in food and pharmaceutical preparations for many years.
Studies of the metabolic fate in man are desirable.
Not limited except for good manufacturing practice.
Bohner, C. B., Sheldon, J. M. & Trenis, J. W. (1941) J. Allergy, 12,
Booth, A. N., Elvehjem, C. A. & Hart, E. B, (1949) J. Nutr., 37, 263
Booth, A. N., Hendrickson, A. P. & De Eds, F. (1963) Toxicol. app.
Pharmacol., 5, 478
Brown, E. B. & Crepea, S. B. (1947) J. Allergy 18, 214
Fowler, P. B. S. (1952) Lancet, 2, 755
Hove, E. L. & Herndon, F. J. (1957) J. Nutr., 63, 193
Johnson, J. B. & Newman, L. H. (1945) Arch. intern. Med., 76, 167
O'Dell, B. L. et al. (1957) J. Nutr., 63, 65
Shue, G. M., Douglass, C. D. & Friedman, L. (1962) Fed. Proc., 21,
Smalley, R. E. et al. (1945) Arch. intern. Mod., 76, 39
Sprague, P. H. (1942) Canad. med. Ass. J., 47, 253