Sugar Content Determination Guide

Sugar Content Determination Guide


The Ultimate Sugar Content Determination guide reviews different methods of sugar content determination using refractometry, density, titration, spectrophotometry and moisture analyzers, depending on the product and requirements.

Sugar Content Determination Guide
Sugar Content Determination Guide

In today's commonly consumed sweetened foods and beverages, sugar concentration ranges from very small to high depending on the purpose of its addition.

The exact sugar content is an important parameter of a product's composition. Also, nutritional labelling of food items requires listing of the sugar content. Knowing the sugar concentration in your products is essential for compliance purposes and to meet customers' expectations.

Regardless of the method of sugar determination in use, METTLER TOLEDO is able to supply food laboratories with the right instruments.

Find out more in our "Ultimate Sugar Content Determination Guide" and benefit from METTLER TOLEDO's expertise in the Food and Beverages industry.

Download Sugar Content Determination Guide — methods of sugar content determination using refractometry, density, titration, spectrophotometry and moisture analyzers.

The Ultimate Sugar Content Determination Guide
Proven Analytical Methods and Results


Sugar and humans have a long shared history. The transition from the formerly white gold to a common commodity, thought of as adverse for our health, is a result of industrialization. Sugar today is a relevant ingredient in many food and beverage products. Its concentration ranges from very small to high contents depending on the purpose of the sugar addition. The exact sugar content is an important parameter of the composition of food products. The following guide will review different methods of sugar content determination, depending on the product and requirements.

Table of contents:

1 Introduction
2 Solutions Overview
3 Efficient Sugar Content Determination in Food and Beverages
3.1 Brix Determination with Instruments
3.2 Beverages, Juices, Wine
3.3 Molasses and Syrups
3.4 Multiparameter System with LiquiPhysics Instruments
4 Titration of Reducing Sugar
5 Moisture and Sugar Content in Sugar
5.1 Moisture Determination in Sugar
5.2 Water Determination of Raw Sugar
6 Sucrose Determination with UV/VIS spectroscopy
7 Production Process Control
7.1 Purification Process Monitoring by Titrimetric Analyses
7.2 Typical Analyses
7.3 Automated Titration System
7.4 Advantages
7.5 Tips and Hints
8 Conclusions
9 More Information
10 Appendix

1. Introduction


Sugar is the general term for a class of sweet-flavored substances used as food. There are various types of sugar derived from different sources. Monosaccharides are simple sugars and include glucose, fructose and galactose. The table or granulated sugar most customarily used as food is sucrose, a disaccharide. Other disaccharides include maltose and lactose. Table sugar has the chemical formula of C12H22O11, its energy content is 16.8 kJ per gram, and is heavier than water, with a density of 1.6 g/cm3. The word 'sugar' originates in the Sanskrit word 'śarkarā', which means sweet; this word was later taken into Arab and from there entered the European languages.

Sugars are present in sufficient concentrations for efficient extraction in sugar cane and sugar beet. Sugar cane is a giant grass and has been cultivated in tropical climates in the Far East since ancient times. Sugar beet is a root crop and is cultivated in cooler climates. Sucrose as a substance is directly contained in these plants and is extracted in a watery solution by leaching, boiling or pressing and crystallizes in the process of boiling out the water content. Sucrose is the parameter that is mostly tested in food labs.

The oldest findings of sugar cane in Melanesia, Polynesia, date back to 8,000 b.C.. Around 600 a.D. hot sugar cane juice was filled into wooden or earthen cones – the creation of the sugar cone. Initially, sugar was a much sought after substance in Europe and considered a luxury good and medicine. No surprise that sugar was called the white gold.

In 1747 Andreas Sigismund Marggraf discovered the sugar beet and in 1801 the chemist Franz Carl Achard created the basis of industrial sugar production. Sugar started to become an industrial commodity and prices decreased, with the beginning of industrial production from 1850 onwards. An interesting side note: In 1840 the first sugar cubes were developed. These were initially colored red, as the wife of the developer Jacob Christoph Rad, who had hurt herself while trying to break some pieces off a sugar cone and had asked her husband to produce smaller portions. He invented the sugar cube press and colored the first cubes red, in remembrance of the event. That his wife had still offered the blood-stained sugar to her guests shows the high value it had at those times.

The world produce of sugar was about 168 million tons in 2011. Top sugar producing countries are Brazil, India, China, USA and Thailand. The average person consumes about 24 kilograms of sugar each year, equivalent to over 260 food calories per person, per day. It is not surprising that the increase in sugar consumption (about 20fold in the last 150 years) also had adverse effects on our health. Sugar is thought to have played a major role in the increase in adiposity, and, as an easy-to-digest carbohydrate has strong effects on the insulin levels.

Inverted sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose. It is made out of the disaccharide sucrose in a hydrolytic reaction, which is commonly induced either by the addition of acid, or utilizing sucrases, biological catalysts. Inverted sugar has some desirable properties: It is sweeter than sucrose, does not crystallize as easily and builds smaller crystals. Invert sugar also has a lower water activity than sucrose and thus provides for more preserving qualities. It is hence often utilized by bakers and food producers.

2. Sugar Content Determination Solutions Overview

Sugar Content Determination
Many methods for the determiation of the sugar content in food, raw materials, ingredients and beverages are applied depending on the sample type and requirements of standards and guidelines. METTLER TOLEDO offers several instruments for the automated anaylsis.

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