The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on April 08, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Alternative names: phosphatidylcholine, partially hydrolyzed lecithin, E322

Naturally present in: liver, egg yolks, soybeans, wheat germ

Commercial Source: vegetable (soy, sunflower, canola seeds)

Used in: instant products, beverages, margarine and spreads, baked goods, snacks, salad dressings, chocolate, confections, protein shakes, dietary supplements, pharmaceutical and personal care products

Used as: emulsifier, dispersing agent, surfactant, release agent

Definition: A group of compounds of varying chemical composition depending on the source, lecithin mixes well with a wide variety of other food ingredients thereby serving multiple functions in foods and making it one of the most widely used food ingredients. Dietary lecithin is a primary source of the essential nutrient choline, important for cell membrane integrity and nerve signaling. Lecithin is also important in many industries including paint and plastics.


ADM wrote that “ADM soy lecithin products do not contain animal products or by-products and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans…The process that produces our soy lecithins does not employ enzymes nor cow bone filters.”

American Lecithin Company told us by phone that all of their food-use lecithins are vegetable-derived; “our egg lecithins are used in pharmaceuticals.”

Cargill Foods


Additional Information:

Although the FDA approved krill-derived lecithin for food use, the company which filed the petition told us by phone that they “sell krill oil, not lecithin from krill.” (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4).

Classification: Vegan (for food use)

Entry updated: March 2015

For information on other ingredients, see:

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The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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