Although small amounts of sorbitol are present is some fruits, the commercial source of sorbitol is the dextrose (glucose) produced from cornstarch. Sorbitol is manufactured by hydrogenating (adding hydrogen) the recovered dextrose. While another name for sorbitol is glucitol (resembling glucose), sorbitol is the term used by the food industry.

Sorbitol is about 60% as sweet as sucrose, and is considered to have 2.6 calories per gram. The Food and Drug Administration concurs with this caloric value.

FDA regulations permit sorbitol to be used in food “at levels not to exceed good manufacturing practices.” These regulations further require that any sorbitol-containing foods whose consumption would add 50 grams (1-3/4 ounces) of sorbitol to a person’s diet must be labeled with the statement, “Excess consumption may have a laxative effect.”

Sorbitol is used in hard and soft candies, flavored jam and jelly spreads, baked goods and baking mixes, chewing gum and cough drops. The maximum amount of sorbitol permitted in each of these products is regulated by FDA.

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