Ethanol is a type of alcohol used in foods and beverages, and this substance gets its name from a combination of ethyl and alcohol. Ethanol is not always food grade, but when it is, it has to pass specialized inspection requirements to be considered fit for human consumption and to be used in foods and drinks without any further modifications made to it to make it safe.
Foodgrade ethanol can be sourced from sugar beets, sugarcane, and grains of all kinds. Once it has been produced, the ethanol is then packaged and shipped or used to make a variety of consumables.
Ethanol in Beverages
This substance makes up the base for a large variety of drinks, including gin, vodka, liquors, and other distilled spirits. It is often used to make wine and kombucha as well, with the average wine containing about 10% ethanol. Ethanol is incredibly potent, so it will be diluted before being used in these beverages. It is often found in alcoholic beverages because ethanol is a type of alcohol, with the primary difference being its carbon composition. Ethanol contains 2 carbons compared to the single carbon in regular alcohol.
Ethanol in Foods
You will even find ethanol used in some foods, particular in flavorings and colorings. The powerful liquid is an important component of some yogurts. If your food has fermented components, there is a strong chance that it contains ethanol. It may be used in breadmaking as well, as the yeast may create ethanol when it ferments. Anything containing yeast could have trace elements of ethanol or other types of alcohol.
Foods containing ethanol usually don’t contain enough of the substance to get you drunk or for you to even notice them. The ethanol simply helps with the fermentation process that can give some foods a slightly sour or bitter taste. These tend to be foods with a lot of sugar that counteracts that natural flavor. Food containing only trace amounts of ethanol do not have to be listed as containing alcohol or classified as alcoholic.
Ethanol can be found naturally in some fruits as well, particularly bananas and pears. Do any of these ethanol uses surprise you?
Ethanol in Other Products
Just because this type of ethanol is classified as food grade, that doesn’t mean it is exclusively used in food items. Manufacturers will use ethanol in their insecticides, cleaning solutions, and even hand sanitizers. If the product is designed to be safe enough to come into contact with human skin, then it needs to be considered safe for humans. That’s why food grade ethanol is preferred in many of these types of items. It gives the manufacturers and the consumers one less thing to worry about.
When the chemical component in a product is food grade, it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction or trigger any other harmful response. After all, food grade means non-toxic, and it means that the product is okay for human contact, according to the FDA.