Erythritol: an interpretive summary of biochemical, metabolic, toxicological and clinical data

Food Chem Toxicol. 1998 Dec;36(12):1139-74. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(98)00091-x.


A critical and comprehensive review of the safety information on erythritol was undertaken. Numerous toxicity and metabolic studies have been conducted on erythritol in rats, mice and dogs. The toxicity studies consist of long-term feeding studies conducted to determine carcinogenic potential, intravenous and oral teratogenicity studies to determine the potential for effects on the foetus, oral studies in which erythritol was administered over one or two generations to determine the potential for reproductive effects, and studies in bacterial and mammalian systems to determine mutagenic potential. The majority of the safety studies conducted were feeding studies in which erythritol was mixed into the diet at concentrations as high as 20%. The metabolic studies in animals have shown that erythritol is almost completely absorbed, not metabolized systemically and is excreted unchanged in the urine. The safety studies have demonstrated that erythritol is well tolerated and elicits no toxicological effects. The clinical program for erythritol involved a series of single-dose and repeat-dose, short-duration studies which have been used to investigate the human correlates to the physiological responses seen in the preclinical studies. The clinical studies showed erythritol to be well tolerated and not to cause any toxicologically relevant effects, even following high-dose exposure. Erythritol administered orally to humans was rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and quantitatively excreted in the urine without undergoing metabolic change. At high oral doses, urinary excretion accounted for approximately 90% of the administered dose with minimal amounts appearing in the faeces. A comparison of the human and animal data indicated a high degree of similarity in the metabolism of erythritol and this finding supports the use of the animal species used to evaluate the safety of erythritol for human consumption. It can be concluded, based on the available studies that erythritol did not produce evidence of toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dogs
  • Erythritol / metabolism
  • Erythritol / pharmacokinetics
  • Erythritol / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Sweetening Agents / metabolism
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Sweetening Agents / toxicity*


  • Sweetening Agents
  • Erythritol