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Specification for Pectins

References        INS No .440   Pectins
EEC No. E440(i)   Pectin
E440(ii)   Amidated Pectin
CAS. Number   9000-69-5
EINECS number   232-553-0


Pectin consists mainly of the partial methyl esters of polygalacturonic acid and their sodium, potassium, calcium and ammonium salts. Pectin may naturally contain acetate or other ester groups.

It is obtained by extraction into an aqueous medium from appropriate edible plant material, usually citrus fruits or apples. No organic precipitants shall be used other than methanol, ethanol and isopropanol. In some types a portion of the methyl esters may have been converted to primary amides by treatment with ammonia under alkaline conditions.

The commercial product is normally standardized with sugars, and may be buffered with suitable food grade salts.


An approved food additive. 
JECFA ADI Not Specified
SCF (Europe)     ADI Not specified
FDA GRAS 21 CFR 184.1588


A white, yellowish, light grayish or light brownish powder.

Functional Uses

Typically as gelling agent, thickening agent, stabilizer.


Identification Tests

A. Enzyme Degradation

Degraded by pure pectate Iyase with generation of conjugated unsaturation detectable by UV absorption at 235 nm.

A suitable pectate lyase and test kit are available from Megazyme at www.megazyme.com.

B. Test for amide group Amidated pectins converted to the free acid form react positively by liberation of ammonia with cold alkali.


IPPA Specifications for Pectins

Purity Tests

Loss on drying

  Not more than 12.0% (105°C, 2 h)
Sulphur dioxide   Not more than 50 mg/kg
Acid-insoluble ash   Not more than 1.0%
Insoluble materials   Not more than 3.0% in alkali plus sequestrant
Free methanol, ethanol and isopropanol   Not more than 1.0% singly or in combination
Nitrogen content   Not more than 2.5% after washing with acid and ethanol
Arsenic   Not more than 3 mg/kg
Lead   Not more than 5 mg/kg
Cadmium   Not more than 1 mg/kg
Mercury   Not more than 1 mg/kg
Heavy Metals (as lead)   Not more than 20 mg/kg
Galacturonic acid   Not less than 65% calculated on the ash-free and dried bases
Degree of amidation   Not more than 25%, of total carboxyl groups of pectin

Test Methods

The recommended test methods are as published in the IPPA Methods Manual. Where the manual does not contain a relevant method, the method indicated in the JECFA Specification should be used. See General Methods (Guide to JEFCA Specifications), FNP 5/ Rev. 2 (1991)


ADI Acceptable Daily Intake
CAS Chemical Abstracts Serial number
EEC European Economic Community
EINECS European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances
FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation (of the United Nations)
FDA Food and Drug Administration (of the USA)
GRAS Generally Recognised As Safe
INS International Numbering System (Codex Alimentarius numbers for food additives)
JECFA Joint Expert Committee for Food Additives (FAO/WHO)
SCF Scientific Committee for Food (the European Union expert committee)

© 2001 IPPA International Pectin Producers Association
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