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Why is sugar tested during production?

23/05/2019 By Ibrahim Belo in What we do Formulations, Manufacturing, Quality & certifications

At Ragus’ Pure Sugars, our rigorous testing processes mean that every product that leaves our factory perfectly meets our customers’ needs.

Why does every batch of Ragus’ Pure Sugar product need to be tested?

In order to maintain a consistent end product, our customers need to know they are getting an identical product every time they place an order. Whether it is an invert sugar for ice cream or a liquid sugar to go into a soft drink, using the exact sugar formulation required is crucial to ensuring an optimum end product. That is why all Ragus Pure Sugars’ products are tested to guarantee consistent colour, flavour, texture softening, binding of component ingredients and stability.

Altering just a single component of a sugar product could have a dramatic effect on the properties of an end product. A different colour shade of a syrup, for example, can change the colour of baked goods, while the percentage of invert sugar to sucrose could modify the sweetness and potentially the flavour. The insights gained from rigorous testing over the years has provided us with a bank of knowledge when advising customers about purchasing a product.

At Ragus Pure Sugars’ state-of-the-art lab our highly specialised team manufacture in a day hundreds of tonnes of crystalline and syrups to slightly different specifications dependant on customer requirements. Only products that fulfil all aspects of our testing criteria are released and verified. All final product samples of a tested batch are kept on site for at least 18 months, so we are always able to carry out further analysis if necessary.

Ragus has a team of sugar consultants working from its lab in the UK. The team provides advice on foodproduction, quality controls and food hygiene to its suppliers. Ragus' close relationship with its suppliers ensures that its customers can be confident that the raw sugar it sources has been grown, harvested, and shipped to its factory to the highest standards of food management.

What tests lead to a consistent sugar product?

Whether it is a repeat order or a brand new custom formulation, every sugar product produced by Ragus Pure Sugars is tested. For example, we check our full and partial invert sugar throughout the inversion process to make sure it is meeting the customer’s specified formula. The tests are carried out at different key stages, allowing us to make alterations as necessary to ensure the product expertly matches the customer’s requirements.

When inverting a sugar, we inspect the pH level, to check the acidity or alkalinity, and adjust it accordingly. We also use polarisation – passing a light through the syrup to determine the product has been inverted correctly and has the right percentages of fructose and glucose. Next, we verify the total amount of sugar to water, checking the level of sucrose by weight in a solution measured in degrees Brix. Lastly, we check the colour of the liquid sugar against a benchmark sample.

By adopting these checks in sugar manufacturing, we have established a 90-year legacy of delivering our customers reliable sugar products to help them produce a highly consistent and repeatable end product on a large scale. Alongside this, the testing we have in place also allow us to quickly and efficiently respond to any changes in the requirements that our customers present to us. All in all, this results in Ragus Pure Sugars’ being backed by expertly tested products that lead to perfection in whatever application they are applied.

What standards are there for sugar?

It is unsurprising that a product as ubiquitous in and essential to the foods and beverages we consume daily as sugar is held to the most strenuous standards. Aside from the UK government setting out in a 2003 piece of legislation strict criteria as to the reserved descriptions for specific sugar products, there are also an abundance of industry-specific accreditations and standards all manufacturers can achieve or adhere to. At Ragus Pure Sugars’, we are proud to have been awarded several of these accreditations.

We hold a global safety and quality certification from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) highlighting that our processes and sugar products meet industry recognised quality standards and are traceable. Alongside this we also have the globally recognised ISO9001 2008 standard which is required for any businesses operating in the wider food and beverage industry.

We use the International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA)  specifications to measure moisture and colour analysis in all our crystallines and syrups. The ICUMSA is a global body that unites the activities of 20 member states from the National Committees for Sugar Analysis. Its sugar grading colour grading system offers an easy way for producers to categorise sugars in accordance with globally acknowledged guidelines.

For the brewing industry we adhere to the standards set out by the European Brewing Convention (EBC), with this taking the form of a special scale designed to indicate colour in malts and sugar. The scale takes a sample and is placed in a spectrophotometer for colour analysis, the higher the EBC rating the higher percentage of sugar and the darker the malt. As the colour of beer can range from very light to dark brown or black, brewing industries prefer to use the EBC when colour grading their products as it is a much quicker process of colour verification than the ICUMSA method.

Ragus ensures the highest level of quality when producing sugar products. To learn more about our products, please contact our Customer Services Team. To see more sugar news and updates, continue browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn. 

Ibrahim Belo

With a primary responsibility for manufactured product quality control, Ibrahim works within our supplier chain, factory and production laboratory. He has a focus on continuous improvement, implementing and maintaining our technical and quality monitoring processes, ensuring standards and product specifications are met.

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