A reader writes:
My findings indicate that refined sugar (cane, not beet) is passed through bone char to make it white. One source, which I have not been able to corroborate, asserts that bone char may include bones from pigs. It also stated that blood albumin from slaughterhouse animals is used in another refining step. Are either of the last two points (use of pig, use of blood albumin) correct?
Jeanne Yacoubou, MS, VRG Research Director, responds:
No source whom I have contacted about bone char filters in sugar refining, (and I have spoken with all of the major sugar refiners in the United States), has ever claimed that pig bones are used. In fact, since one source stated that only the large, dense pelvic bones of cattle can be used to produce bone char, I find it very unlikely that relatively small pig bones would be adequate substitutes.
No source whom I have contacted on the topic of sugar refining claimed that blood albumin was used. Blood albumin could be used in fining wines although I believe that this practice is not used at all in the United States today. It may still be used by some traditional winemakers in Europe.
The VRG recommends that all concerned consumers should contact a product’s manufacturer when in doubt about the item’s ingredients or processing methods.
For more information about sugar refining and the issue of vegan sugar click here.