Bone char, which is used to process sugar, is made from the bones of cattle from Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then sell them back to the U.S. sugar industry. The European Union and the USDA heavily regulate the use of bone char. Only countries that are deemed BSE-free can sell the bones of their cattle for this process. Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve its desirable white color. Other types of filters involve granular carbon or an ion-exchange system rather than bone char.
Bone char is also used in other types of sugar. Brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar, so companies that use bone char in the production of their regular sugar also use it in the production of their brown sugar. Confectioner's sugar—refined sugar mixed with cornstarch—made by these companies also involves the use of bone char. Fructose may, but does not typically, involve a bone-char filter. Supermarket brands of sugar (e.g., Giant, Townhouse, etc.) obtain their sugar from several different refineries, making it impossible to know whether it has been filtered with bone char.
If you want to avoid all refined sugars, we recommend alternatives such as Sucanat and turbinado sugar, which are not filtered with bone char. Additionally, beet sugar—though normally refined—never involves the use of bone char and Edward & Sons Trading Company has developed a vegan confectioner's sugar which should be available in health food stores soon.
It would be virtually impossible for PETA to maintain information on the refining process used for the sugar in every product. We encourage you to contact companies directly to ask about the source of their sugar.
The following companies do not use bone-char filters:
Monitor Sugar 2600 S. Euclid Ave.Bay City, MI 48706Tel.: 517-686-0161Fax: 517-686-2959Web: www.monitorsugar.com
Florida Crystals CorporationP.O. Box 471West Palm Beach, FL 33480 Tel.: 877-835-2828Fax: 516-366-5200 Web: www.floridacrystals.com
SuperValuSUPERVALU Corporate HeadquartersEast View Innovation Center 7075 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie, MN 55344Tel.: 952-828-4000Web.: www.supervalu.ie/
Western Sugar Western Sugar is a subsidiary of Tate & Lyle (formerly Domino sugar) which does use bone-char filters. However, Western Sugar makes only beet sugar, which does not use bone-char filters.
7555 E. Hampton Ave., Ste. 600Denver, CO 80210 Tel.: 303-830-3939Fax: 303-830-3941Web: www.westernsugar.com
The following companies do use bone-char filters. Contact them and encourage them to adopt the use of humane alternatives to bone-char filters:
C&H Sugar Company 2300 Contra Costa Blvd., Ste. 600Pleasant Hill, CA 94523Tel.: 925-688-1731 Fax: 925-822-1061E-Mail: email@example.comWeb: www.chsugar.com
Savannah FoodsP.O. Box 335Savannah, GA 31402Tel.: 912-234-1261
Tate & Lyle North American Sugars Inc. (formerly Domino Sugar) 1100 Key Hwy. W.Baltimore, MD 21230 Tel.: 1-800-638-1590Fax: 410-783-8640
Imperial Sugar P.O. Box 9 Sugarland, TX 77487 Tel.: 1-800-727-8427 Web: www.imperialsugar.com
Refined Sugars Inc. 1 Federal St.Yonkers, NY 10702 Tel.: 914-963-2400 Fax: 914-963-1030
<< Return to Frequently Asked Questions
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.