Glucose Syrup

Glucose Syrup

Glucose Syrup

Glucose syrup is a concentrated sweetener derived primarily from different sources of starch, with cornstarch as the most common and economical. The main component is glucose, a simple sugar that gives this syrup its sweet taste. It is also called glucose syrup. 

Glucose syrup is essentially a blend of glucose polymers, with variations in distribution based on its dextrose equivalent (DE). Corn syrups, a common source, are harmonized by manufacturers through the Corn Refiners Association ( The dextrose equivalent (DE) of a starch hydrolysate product determines whether it is called a dextrin/maltodextrin or a corn syrup/corn syrup solid. There is an arbitrary line at a DE of 20, where anything 20 DE and under are called dextrins or maltodextrins, and anything over 20 DE is called either corn syrup (if liquid) or corn syrup solids (if dry). The most common types of corn syrup used in the industry are 42 DE and 62 DE. As the DE changes, so does the functionality.

The functionality changes because of the molecular weight distribution of the corn syrup. 42 DE has a different molecular weight distribution than 62 DE. The higher the DE, the lower the molecular weight. An important thing to consider is the ratio of corn syrup to sugar in a formulation. One determining factor is crystallization. In formulas where sugar crystallization is discouraged (ie. Gummies, lollipops), corn syrup acts as a crystallization inhibitor. It helps to prevent sugar crystals from nucleating by interfering with them being able to come together. Corn syrup can also help to decrease the cost of a formula. Sucrose tends to be more expensive than corn syrup, so utilizing corn syrup as a bulking agent in formulas helps to reduce the overall cost of production.

Sucrose is the gold standard of sweetness. A way to decrease the sweetness in a product is to use corn syrup as it is lower in sweetness.

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Source and Processing

Available from various starch sources, including corn, tapioca, rice, and brown rice, glucose syrup's flexibility allows for diverse applications; glucose syrup undergoes a meticulous extraction and production process.

The process involves hydrolysis, purification, and concentration to transform starch into a syrupy consistency. This versatile sweetener can potentially be extracted from various starch sources, for example tapioca,  opening up a world of possibilities for food manufacturers.

Main function in Confections

As one of the sweeteners more often used in confections, candy developers take advantage of its many functions:

Sweetening Agent/Regulator: Provides sweetness to various confections but being less sweet than sucrose it’s used to decrease sweetness.​

​Texture Modifier: Controls texture and prevents crystallization in candies.​

Moisture Retention: Enhances softness and shelf life in baked goods.

Bulking agent: Provides body and texture to confections.


The physical properties of glucose syrup play a crucial role in determining its application. Its relative sweetness depends on the DE and the saccharide distribution, for example 42DE corn syrup is typically classified at 60% as sweet as sugar

Its hygroscopic nature attracts and retains moisture, influencing texture and freshness. The amorphous crystalline arrangement prevents the formation of large crystals, maintaining a smooth consistency. 

Highly soluble in water, this syrup makes for easy incorporation into any confection. With proper storage conditions, glucose syrup exhibits impressive shelf stability.

Molecular Structure

Glucose syrups are a complex mixture of carbohydrates. The primary component of these syrups is glucose, a simple sugar that serves as a fundamental energy source for living organisms. Glucose molecules in the syrup are connected through glycosidic bonds, forming various chain lengths and branching patterns.

Generally, these syrups contain a mixture of glucose polymers (chains of glucose molecules) of different lengths, along with some maltose, maltotriose, and higher saccharides.

One key parameter used to characterize glucose syrups is the dextrose equivalent (DE) value. The DE value represents the extent to which the syrup has been hydrolyzed, or broken down, into simpler sugars relative to pure glucose (which has a DE of 100). Syrups with higher DE values contain a higher proportion of simple sugars like glucose and maltose, while those with lower DE values have a greater proportion of longer glucose chains and branched molecules.


In the United States, glucose syrup enjoys a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status conferred by the FDA. Labeling requirements dictate its inclusion as an ingredient, listed as either "glucose syrup" or "corn syrup." Usage limitations align with FDA guidelines, ensuring its safe application across various food categories.​

It can be found in the CFR under the sections 184.1865 and  168.120 Glucose sirup where it states the specifications for this ingredient:​

​The food shall meet the following specifications:​

(1) The total solids content is not less than 70.0 percent mass/mass (m/m), and the reducing​ sugar content (dextrose equivalent), expressed as D-glucose, is not less than 20.0 percent​  m/m calculated on a dry basis.​

(2) The sulfated ash content is not more than 1.0 percent m/m (calculated on a dry basis), and​ the sulfur dioxide content is not more than 40 mg/kg.

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