By Published On: 13 August 2011310 words1.6 min read

Many have asked this question of cultured dextrose.  Is it vegan?  It appears the answer is no.

When we asked the question, “Is cultured dextrose lurking in your vegan food?” this past Spring, it was decided that it probably isn’t vegan based on the lack of availability of knowledge concerning this product, the food product industry’s desire to protect their property, the fact that it has been tested on animals, and just plain deduction and common sense.  Cultured dextrose is not a requirement for sustaining and nourishing our life, but agribusiness and food processing companies sure make a profit off it, and off you if you continue to purchase it.  Basically, it’s a food preservative.

Danisco, the producers of MicroGARD (cultured dextrose and cultured skim milk), use a dairy-derived ingredient (the culture) to manufacture this product.  That culture is “purified” to remove milk proteins and such before it is added to the dextrose (sugar).  One supposes they skip that step when adding it to the skim milk.  In purifying the culture, they meet the labeling requirements set by the FDA insofar as deeming it “allergen free.”

From Danisco:

To answer your question regarding dairy, MicroGARD 200 and 730 does not contain any milk components.  These products are made from the metabolites produced by lactic acid bacteria, which are purified and added to dextrose substrates and not milk substrates. You can also refer to our allergen panels on the spec sheets for any allergens found in these products.

Made from animals (like white refined sugar), but does not contain animal residue (like white refined sugar).  Tested on animals (like artificial food coloring).

How to avoid cultured dextrose?  Read the label and don’t buy it (vegans often find it in hummus).  Natural, nutritious food doesn’t need it.

Please visit Commercial Street for more interactive info on the institutionalized use of animals in our society.

By Published On: 13 August 2011310 words1.6 min read

Many have asked this question of cultured dextrose.  Is it vegan?  It appears the answer is no.

When we asked the question, “Is cultured dextrose lurking in your vegan food?” this past Spring, it was decided that it probably isn’t vegan based on the lack of availability of knowledge concerning this product, the food product industry’s desire to protect their property, the fact that it has been tested on animals, and just plain deduction and common sense.  Cultured dextrose is not a requirement for sustaining and nourishing our life, but agribusiness and food processing companies sure make a profit off it, and off you if you continue to purchase it.  Basically, it’s a food preservative.

Danisco, the producers of MicroGARD (cultured dextrose and cultured skim milk), use a dairy-derived ingredient (the culture) to manufacture this product.  That culture is “purified” to remove milk proteins and such before it is added to the dextrose (sugar).  One supposes they skip that step when adding it to the skim milk.  In purifying the culture, they meet the labeling requirements set by the FDA insofar as deeming it “allergen free.”

From Danisco:

To answer your question regarding dairy, MicroGARD 200 and 730 does not contain any milk components.  These products are made from the metabolites produced by lactic acid bacteria, which are purified and added to dextrose substrates and not milk substrates. You can also refer to our allergen panels on the spec sheets for any allergens found in these products.

Made from animals (like white refined sugar), but does not contain animal residue (like white refined sugar).  Tested on animals (like artificial food coloring).

How to avoid cultured dextrose?  Read the label and don’t buy it (vegans often find it in hummus).  Natural, nutritious food doesn’t need it.

Please visit Commercial Street for more interactive info on the institutionalized use of animals in our society.

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  1. Jason B August 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    This is the answer I got from DuPont last winter:

    Hello Mr. B.,

    Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the vegan status of our cultured dextrose based products.

    First, as the term “vegan” is not defined by legislation the final interpretation of whether our cultured dextrose products are or are not compliant with this term is left strictly to the consumer or customer. With this in mind please let me provide you with a brief overview.

    In short our manufacturing process involves adding specific cultures to sterile, dextrose containing, media. The cultures consume or ferment the dextrose as part of their normal biological activities, producing our finished or now “cultured” products. The media used in the fermentation, and our process in general, is free from meat, egg or dairy containing products. The strains themselves are passaged and stored frozen in meat, egg and dairy free medium. Although the cultures were originally isolated from fresh dairy products, as they are recognized as traditional dairy starter cultures, this isolation occurred years ago and the cultures have since been maintained and stored in dairy/animal free medium.

    I hope you find this information is helpful.

    Regards,

    Matt

    My question is:
    I follow a vegan diet. A product I consume uses cultured dextrose, which may be a MicroGARD product. I understand MicroGARD contains a bacterium that may be derived from milk. Even if this is true, how do you keep the dextrose cultures active? Did your firm once upon a time isolate the bacterium from milk? Do you now keep the bacterium in test tubes, growing on dextrose? Friends and I have been having a debate about whether your product is suitable for vegans. A relatively detailed reply that addresses our concerns would be helpful.

    Matthew H.
    Global Product Manager
    Dupont Nutrition and Health

  2. Charleen December 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Wes,
    Danisco has patented cultured dextrose under the registered name MicroGARD. They are the sole manufacturer. Also, to reiterate, it is made from a milk-derived culture.
    Further, there is no federal regulatory standard in the US for labeling a product “vegan.”

  3. Wes Novack December 19, 2012 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Trader Joe’s sells a White Bean Hummus that is explicitly labeled vegan. One of its ingredients is cultured dextrose.

    While the information in this post regarding Danisco’s MicroGARD is helpful, I have to wonder if they are the only source of cultured dextrose? I assume they are not, and therefore, there could be some sources of cultured dextrose that are vegan.

    So either the Trader Joe’s hummus is labeled incorrectly as vegan or their cultured dextrose is derived from a non-animal product or byproduct.

  4. becky July 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    so, if it says “dextrose” but does not specifically say “cultured dextrose” on the label, should I assume it is or isn’t vegan?

  5. Midge January 4, 2012 at 2:30 am - Reply

    I work in an Australian food processing plant which uses cultured dextrose imported from the US, so even if there is vegan dextrose produced in Australia I wouldn’t count on it being used in Australian products.

  6. Charleen October 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    JonathanCline-
    Thank you for this. I’ve been looking all over for this:
    “MicroGARD is an ingredient produced by the fermentation of either dextrose or skim milk with a standard dairy culture.”

    This proves my “over-enthusiastic claim” that, indeed, Danisco, cultures their dextrose with dairy-derived bacteria. However, Cultured Dextrose is not the same thing as kombucha or nutritional yeast. Although, you’re correct in saying that using the same bacteria to culture either the dextrose or the milk is not the point. The point is that the bacteria used is a “dairy culture.” Bacteria used for culture doesn’t have to be dairy-derived. The culture used to make tempeh isn’t.

  7. JonathanCline October 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    It would seem you’re a little over-enthusiastic in your claims.. I recently found this ingredient in Trader Joe’s hummus and lentil dip and was not amused since I didn’t know what it was (and being vegan, I do not want to eat cultured milk byproducts either). It seems that cultured dextrose means the secreted enzymes after feeding dextrose (sugar) to a bacterial culture. If you drink Kombacha or eat nutritional yeast then you’re eating similar stuff.. Whether or not those same bacteria are used to culture MILK is besides the point. Bacteria can be used to culture many things, including tempe and kimchi.

    Needless to say, I am very disappointed in Trader Joe’s again.. It seems they are NON-VEGAN in this case too. (Most of their products today contain an excess of dairy and cheese, even if labelled vegetarian). The dip which contains this “cultured dextrose” ingredient is also labelled “Vegan”.

    A better reference might be this one, from Canadian Food Inspection Agency

    http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/labeti/decisions/dailaie.shtml

    “”””MicroGARD

    Question: When MicroGARD is added as an ingredient to a food, what common name is acceptable to describe it in the list of ingredients?

    Answer: When MicroGARD is added as an ingredient to a food, the common name “cultured skim milk”, “fermented skim milk”, “cultured dextrose” or “fermented dextrose”, as applicable, is required to be declared in the list of ingredients on the final food. All components must be shown, as well. The word “product” may also form part of the common name in the list of ingredients but it is not required, e.g., “cultured skim milk product”. MicroGARD is not a food additive.

    MicroGARD is an ingredient produced by the fermentation of either dextrose or skim milk with a standard dairy culture. Cultured dextrose and cultured skim milk are mixtures of propionic, butyric and lactic acids and peptides which act as shelf extenders or preservatives, e.g., to prevent spoilage in salad dressing. Because of this, it is not acceptable to claim that the final food does not contain preservatives or is not preserved.

    Cultured skim milk should NOT be included in the group name “modified milk ingredients” provided for by section B.01.010(3)(b), Items 7.1 and 7.2. This is consistent with a previous ruling for cultured whey. In addition, because these products are obtained via the process of bioengineering, both cultured dextrose and cultured skim milk are currently being treated as novel food ingredients. (17/Jul/92; 31/Jan/94; 26/May/94; 29/Apr/94)
    “”””

  8. vegantasmania August 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    Since you’re likening it to the way sugar is processed I wonder if dextrose is vegan in Australia, like sugar is?

    • Charleen August 15, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

      The comparison to sugar was purely ideological. I don’t think one can infer dextrose is vegan in Australia because Australian refineries do not use bone char in cane sugar production. And it’s not the dextrose which is at issue here. It’s the dairy-derived culture. Although processed industrially, dextrose itself is vegan.