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How is sugar made?

What is Sugar?

Sugar is the generic name for sweet, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. There are various types of sugar, derived from different sources. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose, fructose and galactose.

Processing of sugar or Sugar Production Process

The crop (sugarcane) is harvested mechanically or by hand, chopped into lengths and conveyed rapidly to  the  processing  plant  (commonly  known  as  sugar  mill),  where  it  is  either  milled  and  the  juice  is extracted with water, or the sugar is extracted by diffusion. The juice is then clarified with lime and heated to destroy enzymes.

The resulting thin syrup is concentrated in a series of evaporators, after which further water is removed by means of evaporation in vacuum containers. The resulting supersaturated solution is seeded with sugar crystals; the sugar crystallises out and is separated from the fluid and dried.

The crystals of raw sugar have a sticky brown coating and can either be used as they are or be bleached by sulfur dioxide or be treated in a carbonation process using bone char to produce a whiter product.

Bone char, which may be used to process sugar, is made from the bones of cattle. To make bone char, animal bones are heated at incredibly high temperatures and are reduced to carbon before being used in a refinery. Bone char is widely used by the sugar industries as a decolourising filter, which allows the sugar to achieve its desirable white colour.

Lately, sugar factories claim to use other types of filters that is granular carbon or an ion-exchange system rather than bone char. Some companies rely on alternatives like granular carbon, which does not contain animal products, during the filtering process.

Consumer VOICE tested 5 brands to check if the claims are true and find out if there is bone char in the refined sugar on your table or is it vegan sugar?

Divya Patwal


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