What are sorbitol and sorbitol syrup?

As all polyols, sorbitol and sorbitol syrup are sugar alcohols or hydrogenated carbohydrates. They are also known as sugar replacers, bulk sweeteners or sugar-free sweeteners. Sorbitol can be found naturally in various fruits. The commercial production is obtained by the catalytic hydrogenation of dextrose and of glucose syrups which are mainly sourced from maize, wheat and tapioca starches. Consisting primarily of D-sorbitol, some hydrogenated saccharides (e.g. mannitol, maltitol…) may be present. The article of commerce is supplied both as sorbitol syrup and as sorbitol powder.

In what products are sorbitol and sorbitol syrup used?

  • Food applications

    Characterized by its specific nutritional and technological properties, sorbitol (European safety number E 420; International number INS 420) is used for decades in a large range of foodstuffs. Sorbitol is commonly used as humectant and stabilizer in bakery and pastry applications, extending shelf-life by maintaining the moisture content of foodstuff. Scientific evidence has shown beneficial effects of the use of sorbitol in food to human health. The consumption of foods containing sorbitol instead of sugar may help maintaining tooth mineralisation by decreasing tooth demineralisation, and also may induce a lower blood glucose rise after meals compared to the same food product containing sugars. For instance, its sweetness and low caloric value make sorbitol a preferred ingredient in sugar-free confectionery and energy-reduced products See also Polyols – food applications

  • Pharmaceutical applications

    Sorbitol is widely used as pharmaceutical excipient, in direct compression applications to make tablets, where it provides bulk and sweetness to the drug products. See also Polyols – pharmaceutical applications

  • Cosmetics applications

    In cosmetics and personal care products, sorbitol is used as flavouring agent, humectant and skin conditioning agent. Sorbitol is recognized as the ideal base for personal care applications such as toothpaste and mouthwash. It indeed prevents the toothpaste from drying out thanks to its humectant function and gives the required viscosity. In addition, sorbitol has also a highly pronounced cooling effect when placed in water or in the mouth. This latter combined with its non-cariogenic properties are perfectly suitable for mouthwash recipes. See also Polyols – Cosmetics applications