Glycerin In Food

What is glycerin?

Glycerin, also known as glycerine or glycerol, is a type of sugar alcohol compound that is made from either animal fats, plant fats or is synthetically produced. The polyol occurs naturally in fermented foods and beverages, including beer, honey, vinegar, wine, and wine vinegar. It is a colorless, odorless, non-toxic liquid that has a sweet taste. Glycerin’s safety has been confirmed by multiple global health authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Although it is most widely used and recognized in the cosmetics industry, it is very common to see glycerin in food & beverage applications.

Types of glycerin.

  • Plant-based (vegetable oil): Natural glycerin is derived from oils and fats of coconut and palm. The plant oils are subjected to a combination of pressure, temperature, and water to form glycerin. Because of its organic composition, vegetable glycerin has a texture similar to syrup. This type of glycerin is considered vegan.
  • Animal-based (fat): Tallow (beef or mutton fat) is combined with water and heated to a thick consistency over medium to low heat. The mixture is then chilled overnight in the refrigerator. The hardened mixture is boiled to remove excess water or strained to remove impurities.
  • Synthetic: It is petroleum-based and produced from cane or corn syrup sugar, or propylene.

How is glycerin used in food?

Glycerin helps preserve moisture, prevents sugar crystallization, and adds bulk, smoothness, softness, sweetness, and texture to a range of foods and beverages. It gives the final product its smooth, thick texture. It is used in a variety of food and drink products, including various beverages, energy bars, cake, icings, soft candies, chewing gum, condiments, creams, diet foods, dried fruits, fondant, fudge, and marshmallows. Food-grade glycerin is often used as a humectant (wetting agent), thickener, solvent, or sweetener to dairy products. The source of glycerin used in a food product is usually not revealed on the food labels.

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