Sucrose esters (E 473) are emulsifiers used in foods to improve different technological properties. They should conform to the specifications laid down in Commission Regulation No. 231/2012 and be used at amounts not exceeding the maximal ones set by Commission Regulation No. 1129/2011. In order to be able to characterise commercial sucrose ester formulations and to evaluate whether they are used correctly by the food industry, a quantitative GC-FID method was developed. Standards of monoesters and diesters were isolated from commercial additive preparations because no commercial ones were available. Commercial sucrose monolaureate and in-house-synthesised sucrose diarachidonate were used as internal standards. The method showed limits of detection and quantification of 2.9 and 5.7 µg ml(-1) respectively for the monoesters and 42.8 and 129.7 µg ml(-1) respectively for the diesters. The analysed commercial additive formulations contained mainly mono- and diesters of palmitic and stearic acid with low amounts of free fatty acid and sucrose. Different food matrices were incurred with commercial sucrose esters formulations and recoveries ranged between 92% and 118% for the monoesters and between 77% and 120% for the diesters. Recovery of sucrose monoesters in cake was around 34% when no enzymatic treatment was applied, and about 64% when enzymatic treatment with Clara-Diastase was applied. This indicated that sucrose esters can interact strongly with the matrix during food production and that treatment with enzymes is essential to determine the esters' content accurately in some classes of food products.