Say No To Bone Char! A List of Bone Char Free Vegan Sugar Companies

March 29, 2014


Not all sugar is vegan. Learn more about vegan sugar here. (

A List of Bone Char Free Vegan Sugar Companies

Sugar comes from two sources – sugar cane and sugar beets.

Bone char is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows sugar to achieve its white color. The bone char is made from the bones of cattle from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders who then sell them to the U.S. sugar industry.

Bone char is used in many types of sugar including brown sugar and confectioner's sugar.

The supermarket brands of sugar obtain their sugar from several different refineries, making it next to impossible to know whether it has been filtered with bone char.  Beet sugar is considered vegan because it’s never processed with bone char.

This bone char filter process is unacceptable to many vegans.

Even if you’re not vegan, you have reason to be concerned about refined sugars and bone char.

Due to health concerns, the FDA prohibits the use of bones from the United States’ meat industry which is why the bones are imported. Also, the bones are required to come from animals that die of natural causes, but no one is monitoring that.

Fortunately there are vegan sugars on the market, but it takes a little effort to purchase. If you can't find vegan sugar at your local market, I recommend going online. Here is a list of vegan sugars available on Amazon. If you know of any others, please share.

NOTE: JAN 2020: Since bone char is not on the National Organic Program's National List of allowed substances, certified USDA organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char.

Zulka an Ordinary Vegan favorite and available at most mainstream grocery stores!
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Light Brown Suga
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Dark Brown Sugar
Now Foods Beet Sugar
Trader Joe's Organic Sugar Evaporated Cane Juice
Sugar In The Raw
Rapunzel Rapadura
Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar
Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar   
Red Path Sugar
The Raw Cane
Sprouts Sugar
Kirkland Organic Sugar – Costco
American Crystal Beet Sugar
Roger's Sugars – note: Bone char is not used in Vancouver any more

** It has been brought to my attention that Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar may be responsible for pollution problems in Florida. Here are some articles regarding it**

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122 thoughts on “Say No To Bone Char! A List of Bone Char Free Vegan Sugar Companies

    1. No Terri – I don’t think so – I tasted some delicious stevia products at the Natural Foods convention. I particularly liked one called stevita

    2. No, they aren’t diabetic friendly, but I’ve been using Truvia (which is Stevia) and Agave Nectar…they do not cause blood sugar to rise. Available on or local grocery stores. These two products do not cause blood sugar to rise.

      1. truvia, i believe is made/ created /marketed by BIG AG thus chems, herbicides/ pesticides/ GMO influences thus a HUGE ‘suspect’ for ‘integrity’ of the finished product. Somewhat related to ‘Whole paychecks’ vitamin C sourced from GMO corn. Just saying BEWARE

        1. tThanks so very very much for the information about Truvia. What should I use then since I can not use sugar?

          1. Brynn – I would recommend stevia for coffee etc and pure organic maple syrup to sweeten recipes.

          2. Dates. First of all, all foods cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, the safest bet is to find something naturally sweet that has not been processed and add that to your drink, baking, dressing, etc.

            Dates are high in fiber and will cause a slower spike in blood sugar and less of a dramatic crash. Above all, for type 2 diabetes you should be avoiding processed products in general, as to lower your fat intake.

            Check out nutrition for more info.

        2. Ttrivia is also mixed with maltodextrin or dextrose which are fillers The only brand i kknow that is pure Stevie is Sweet Leaf brand.

      2. Agave syrup has been marketed as a “healthful” sweetener, but this fact has been the subject of criticism due to its very high fructose content (which is even more than high fructose corn syrup in its fructose content by weight) and its potential to lead to insulin resistance and significantly increased triglyceride levels (a risk factor for heart disease)

      3. If you’re diabetic eat hclf, go on YouTube to the channel ‘high carb diabetic’ people wouldn’t make any money from curing you would they, its better if pharmaceutical companies keep selling you their drugs. Forks over knives and high carb diabetic on YouTube and see what yiu think xD

      4. Truvia and Purvia are from the Coca cola company and Pepsi company, respectively. Both are FAKE sugars!!

        1. Only a non-sugar or a low-carb sweetener would be safe for a diabetic. That’s why nobody’s recommending real sugar.

      5. Excellent ! Just an fyi .. I stopped ordering anything from Amazon since I found out the owner bought Whole Foods Markets & is one of the worst violators of animal welfare… is where DxE rescued horribly diseased & suffering animals. Just thought you may like to know & spread the word so the rich who don’t care don’t get richer especially by vegan purchases!

    3. I’m demoing some products at work today, vegan, and vegetarian friendly. They are called “Hey Shuga.” It’s also GMO free. Oh and natural, and organic, with no artificial anything!

    4. Organic sugars are typically more diabetic friendly since refined is around 80+ GI (glycemic index) while organic is only 45 GI

    5. As a diabetic I’d never eat sweeteners or sugars other than contained in fruits and vegetables. Processed sugars cause cancer and sweeteners are a serious health risk bar a couple, and they are not healthy. A raw food diet is best and can even reverse type 2 diabetes. Research research !

    1. Hi Joanna – my research is telling me that the sugar industry in Australia uses non-animal coal filters to process cane sugar in Australia although I would research the individual brands you are planning on buying. Thanks for being part of our community Joanna.

      1. Untrue. 100% of beet sugar in US is GMO. You are misled. In fact the kind you mentioned is proud that GMOs exist. Do your research.

      1. Beet and coconut sugar are not processed with bone char. Thanks for stopping by Marie and thanks for being part of our healthy community!

  1. Would like to ask if anyone knows if white granulated sugar with bone char processing would hurt hummingbirds? I make a 4 to 1 mix of this sugar all summer for them & have already purchased a 25 lb. bag of the stuff. My hummers are piggies.

    1. That is such a good question Lynel. I can’t find anything about it hurting hummingbirds online. The only two harmful ingredients for hummingbirds that I could find are red food coloring and too many preservatives. Thanks for feeding the hummingbirds and being part of our community!

    2. It the sugar WITHOUT bone char processing that can hurt the hummingbirds: “Raw sugar, agave syrup, brown sugar, molasses, artificial sweeteners, or anything other than white sugar; these cause various problems for hummers.”

      I also read the iron in unfiltered sugar can cause health problems for the hummingbirds. 🙂

    1. Yes Tamara – raw sugar should be vegan. Thanks for the info and thanks for being part of our community!

  2. Hey everyone,
    FYI- Just called Imperial Sugar customer service, who said that All of their sugar is processed using bone char filtering.

    Thanks for the article!

  3. Hi Nancy, I’ve just discovered your site and really love it! You have so many great, easy recipes.Can’t wait to start trying them all.
    I wonder if you have the low down on how vegan wine is produced. I assumed all wine was vegan but apparently most is not. I’m in the dark on this. Any info. would be most appreciated.

    1. Hi Bridget – I will do a post regarding wine this week and send you a link. Thanks for bringing that up and for being part of our community!

    1. If it is unbleached it shouldn’t have bone char because the purpose of the bone char is to whiten the sugar but brown sugars could have been made with bone char so I would buy vegan sugar to be certain. Thanks Tracy for being part of our community.

      1. Yes exactly. Brown sugar is simply white (or unbleached) sugar with added molasses. One would have to determine the source and processing method of the original sugar used.

  4. Billington’s golden caster sugar (unrefined cane sugar) is suitable for vegans – you can buy it in most supermarkets in the UK.

  5. I was just researching vegan sugar and was trying to chose between Domino agave and Florida Crystals only to find out Domino foods owns C&H sugar, Domino sugar, and Florida crystals. Does anyone know if this leader company makes all it’s sugar vegan? I would like to support a whole company doing the right thing, not just one of their brands.

  6. I know that Rogers sugar in canada is Vegan, however only if produced in the alberta factory, the vancouver factory, however uses the bone-char method… I use their plantation raw in all my baking and stuff, and it is awesome 🙂

  7. My friend uses bone char as an amendment to her garden soil. Do not understand these replies for organic table & baking sugars.

    1. My understanding is that any sugar that is labeled as organic is also therefore vegan, (at least in the US) as the organic standards do not permit the use of bone char. Can anyone confirm this?

      1. Hi Matt – I do believe that this is now true because bone char is not on the National Organic Program’s National list of allowed substances. Thanks for mentioning this and I will include it in this post. Happy New Year!

  8. White sugar is just the pits. It gives your body NOTHING that is good… far from it. Only your candida loves it.

  9. Does anybody know of a company that sells GMO beet sugar? I’m seriously looking for a inexpensive, vegan GMO beet sugar but am having a hard time finding a consumer product that meet my guidelines. I figure I need to avoid the cognitive dissonance and my ethical qualms with buying organic products since they actively disparage good science and engage in anti-GMO fear mongering.

    Thanks for any help.


    1. I didn’t know this David until you brought it up but it seems The US sugar beet industry coordinated an industry-wide conversion to genetically modified sugar beets, thus eliminating a non-GMO alternative for food manufacturers and consumers. For more information – click here

      1. Do you have a better resource than an anti-GMO website with no references or good scientific resources? Like with any ag product, it is the farmers that decide, not the industry, what they want to grow based upon many factors such as cost, quality of the product, environmental impact, and more. I am actually glad that farmers have moved away from using toxic organic and conventional pesticides and herbicides in favor on GM crops that use products that are less toxic to humans than salt.

        Anyways, any idea on where to get non-organic, vegan transgenic sugar beet sugar?

      2. Beets are man-made, therefore unnatural, and not beneficial to the body. I understand not wanting to use animal products in sugar, but cane sugar was never meant to be used as sweetener; It was used as an alternative to honey and dates because it was seen to be lucrative. As a result, the slave trade was used for free labor to work the sugar cane fields.

    2. American Crystal in the Midwest is all beet and probably mostly GMO. There has been a lot of pressure for the farmers in this co-op to plant Roundup Ready seed. It’s about the same price as any supermarket sugar. Beet sugar is vegan because it usually bleached through a spray method rather than a filter method.

  10. Bone char is not used at Taber’s sugar beet factory or at Montreal’s cane refinery. Bone char is only used at the Vancouver cane refinery. All products under the Lantic trademark are free of bone char. For the products under the Rogers trademark, all Taber sugar beet products are also free of bone char. In order to differentiate the Rogers Taber beet products from the Vancouver cane products, you can verify the inked-jet code printed on the product. Products with the code starting with the number “22” are from Taber, Alberta, while products with the code starting with the number “10” are from Vancouver, British Columbia.

  11. Heavenly Organics Sugar is Vegan. It’s rare, 100% organic whole cane sugar from the pristine foothills of the Himalayan Mountains produced by a cooperative of small farmers who practice an ancient method of removing impurities from organic cane juice by using wild-crafted herbs and then sun drying. It’s made without the use of commercial dryers thus preserving the natural nutrients and minerals and reducing our carbon footprint.

  12. Is sugar actually vegan? How do you know that animals aren’t dying when they burn the sugar fields? Seem like a lot of mice and frogs would be killed in the process. To me if something dies to make the product it’s not vegan. Are any of these sugars made without burning the cane fields?

    1. Nothing is perfect; unfortunately all crops will have some collateral damage, whether it be an insect stepped on, or a mouse being crushed by equipment. We can only aim for the least damage possible. That being said, beet sugar does not involve burning fields. It does often involve GMOs, however.

      1. Burning a field seems like there would be a lot more collateral damage than a tractor driving through a field, just saying. Not to mention how much of the worlds rain forests that are cut down to grow sugar. Humans don’t need refined sugar to survive.

        1. I have to say I agree, and prefer to buy beet sugar when I can, despite the GMO status. But GMOs have their own environmental effects, and a lot of unknowns, so I can’t say that’s an obvious choice for most people.

  13. Hey, thanks for the information! For those in the UK like me, all of Tate and Lyle’s sugars (white and brown) and syrups are vegan with the exception of their powdered sugar which contains egg white. I was massively relieved to find this out as you can pretty much find their products everywhere!

  14. Thanks for your answers to the sugar problem, I’m glad to hear Tate and Lyle are vegan. I’m vegetarian and just starting out as vegan, labelling is a minefield, still, I like a challenge and it’ll be worth it to safeguard animals.

  15. You can make your own brown sugar with turbinado and molasses 1 cup:1T
    You can make your own confectioners sugar with turbinado and corn starch
    1 C:1 T then pulverize it in a blender

    1. thank you for that information Darren! I have been using turbinado sugar for 30 years, when my first son was born, trying to avoid the refined sugar intake, but not really knowing what I was doing! (pre-internet!)

  16. I’m lucky to be living in Canada! Red Path sugar is probably the most common and widely used. I’m not a full vegan but am working toward it. I don’t think that I would make a huge deal over sugar especially because I don’t think this is commonly known. Avoiding sugar isn’t a bad thing anyway. :p

  17. I switched to coconut sugar some time ago. Doesn’t absorb into the bloodstream as fast and I can just use a 1/2 a teaspoon in my coffee now versus what I was using. Not fully vegan yet but about 90% so far. I’m loving it too!

    1. Congratulations on your compassionate diet Dana and thanks for being part of our healthy community!

  18. Hi! Thank you for posting this! I was really looking for this information. Unfortunately, a lot of vegans think that all sugar is vegan. I hope that they find this article and read it.

  19. Any organic sugar is not made with bone char. Costco probably has the best price. I have tried just about every stevia and the best I have tasted is sold by a company called I buy a 1 pound bag and it lasts about a year and a half. It’s been debittered to remove the aftertaste. It’s great with coffee, tea, smoothies, etc

  20. Cane refineries process raw cane sugar to make refined sugar. Raw sugar is 98% sucrose and 2% of impurities. The 2% of impurities is cane molasses. The cane refining process is better understood as a purification or separation process that removes the 2% of impurities. The refining process does not alter the 98% of the naturally occurring sucrose in the raw sugar.

    Animal bone char attracts and removes impurities. The animal bone char is a filtering agent, and does not become part of the final product. The animal bone char does not bleach the sugar. No bleaching occurs anywhere in the process. White is the natural color of pure sugar after the removal of the 2% of impurities.

    The cows are not raised and killed for the purpose of making bone char. Bone char is the least valuable part of the animal. That bone char is used in the cane refining process is not the cause of a single cow anywhere in the world to be killed.

    The chemical formula for sucrose (white refined sugar that you buy at the grocery store) is C12-H22-O11. All white refined sugar, regardless of whether cane or beet, regardless of refining (purification) process, is exactly the same chemically, functionally, nutritionally.

    Raw sugar, turbinado sugar, unrefined sugar, etc are not healthier, more nutritious, or better for you in any way because these products are 98% sucrose (white refined sugar) and 2% impurities, or molasses. The 2% of molasses has no nutritional benefits that are better for you.

    These products do have a nice flavor because of the 2% molasses, but that is the only benefit.

    I hope this information helps to make the ethical choices that are important to you. Although animal bone char is not on the approved list, no animals are killed for the purpose of making animal bone char. The animal was already deceased for other reasons

    1. Hi Joe – Unfortunately – I can’t find a straight answer. If it is made from beets, then it should be vegan. Also, if you want to make sure your sugar is vegan, buy organic. Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by.

    1. We love Zulka – my all time fav!! They were promoting bone-char free sugar way before the news about bone char in sugar became popular.

  21. o, and almost forgot–though beet sugar is not processed with bone char, sugar beets are normally GMO–however, the FDA decided that since beet sugar is so highly processed, all traces of GMO have been removed. what a hunk of BS. this ruling was made for the benefit of the industry. sheesh.

    1. I have read that sweeteners made with monk fruit don’t impact blood sugar levels. Making it a good option for people watching their blood sugar levels and weight. There is no evidence that monk fruit has any downside to date. Hope that helps and thanks for dropping by Monica! Happy New Year

  22. For all those who dine at PF Chang’s restaurant, they offer several vegetarian items on their menu, which PETA claims are vegan. Well, actually they’re not according to the chef at my local PF Chang’s here in Fort Myers, Florida. All of their sauces and soy sauces are sweetened with bone char sugar.
    We get around it by ordering the Buddha’s Feast, steamed, with their organic gluten free Tamari sauce, you just need to bring your own Vegan sweetener. Sorry if I ruined anyone’s favorite dining spot.

  23. Current USDA Organic standards do not allow bone char. If you see the USDA Organic label on sugar, you can be sure it is vegan. Another brand is Safeway/Albertson’s/Von’s–it’s all the same massive conglomerate operatiing under different names throughout America. Their house organic O brand sugar all carry the USDA Organic seal.

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