Sugar alcohol is a kind of polyhydric alcohols with more than two carboxyl groups. Although sugar alcohol is not sugar, it has some properties of some sugars. The currently developed sugar alcohols include sorbitol, mannose sorbitol, erythritol, maltitol, lactitol and xylitol, and these sugar alcohols which have higher stability to acid and heat are not easy to induce the Maillard reaction become low calorie food sweeteners, and foreign countries have regarded them as sugar substitutes, which have been widely applied to video industry. Sweet foods made from sugar alcohols are called sugar free foods, and because sugar alcohol is not used by oral microorganisms, and increases pH value of the oral cavity rather than reducing it, it doesn’t corrode the teeth and it is a good material for dental caries prevention. Sugar alcohol has no influence on the rise of human blood sugar value and provides certain heat for diabetes patients, so it can be regarded as a kind of nutritional sweetener to provide energy for diabetes patients. Sugar alcohol has now become one of the safety foods without limits on its use, which is approved by International Food and Health Organization.
Nowadays, more and more sugar alcohol industrial productions have changed from chemical method to microbial fermentation method; in the separation and extraction of sugar alcohols, membrane separation technology and continuous moving bed technology have also been paid more and more attention. At present, membrane and continuous moving bed have been applied to the production of xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol and develop the whole extraction process for xylitol production with biological fermentation.
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