Bone char refers to bones that have been charred until black. The bones are turned into filters for processing sugar. Bone char filters have a decolourization ability that give sugar it’s “bone” white color when filtered through them. Sugar processed through cow or horse bones includes white sugar, cane sugar, confectioners sugar, packed brown sugar, and some fructose. The bones used come from cattle in countries like Argentina, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to a second party who then sell them to the U.S. sugar industry. You may be wondering why the bones from U.S. cattle aren’t used instead of importing cattle bones from other countries. Cattle bones have to be imported because the FDA prohibits the use of U.S. cattle bones due to health concerns.
The cow and horse bones function as filters to the sugar and help it obtain it’s white look. This is an issue for vegetarians and vegans but non-vegetarians and non-vegans should also be concerned. Bones from diseased cows shouldn’t be used. The bones should come from animals that died from natural causes but there is not a system in place to monitor that. Supermarket sugar brands are supplied with sugar from several refineries, making it quite difficult to know if it was processed using bone char filters. The best way to know if a company uses bone char filters is to call them and ask. Using bone char filters in inexpensive and is for this reason, the prevailing method of refining sugar. The following list includes companies that do use bone-char filters. Feel free to contact them and ask them to consider safer and more human alternatives to bone-char filters.
C&H Sugar Company
2300 Contra Costa Blvd., Ste. 600
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
P.O. Box 335
Savannah, GA 31402
Tate & Lyle North American Sugars Inc. (formerly Domino Sugar)
1100 Key Hwy. W.
Baltimore, MD 21230
P.O. Box 9
Sugarland, TX 77487
Refined Sugars Inc.
1 Federal St.
Yonkers, NY 10702
Click here for more information on bone char sugar.
Click here for a list of companies that DO NOT use bone char filters.