Vanillin and its applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries

Joanna Sikorska
7 min reading
Vanillin and its applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries
Table of contents
  •  Vanillin is a chemical compound found in vanilla sticks.
  • It is widely used in the cosmetics, food and pharmaceutical industries.

What is Vanillin? Vanillin vs. vanilla

Vanillin is a highly aromatic organic chemical compound (vanillin glucoside). It is responsible for the smell and taste of vanilla. Dried vanilla beans contain about 2% Vanillin.

The terms Vanillin and vanilla are often confused with each other, but despite their similar names, they are not the same thing. Vanillin is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the seeds of the vanilla plant, a plant with yellow-green flowers whose fruits are used to make spice vanilla beans. The most important distinguishing feature is the intensity of the aroma. Since vanilla is quite expensive to produce, manufacturers are increasingly turning to Vanillin. Another name for Vanillin is a synthetic substitute for vanilla. There is also Ethyl Vanillin, a flavoring agent that is many times stronger than Vanillin.

Vanillin consists of a benzene ring substituted with three functional groups: aldehyde, hydroxyl and methoxyl. It exists in the form of small crystals ranging in color from white to light yellow. Although it occurs naturally, today it is mainly obtained industrially from lignin. During paper production, lignin is removed and Vanillin is obtained. Since this process produces many unnecessary products and increases the problem of disposal costs, vanillin is now also extracted from guaiacol from cloves. If you want to learn more about Vanillin and its use in the industry, be sure to read on!

Vanillin – uses

Vanillin has several industrial uses, but most commonly its flavoring properties are used in the food industry. It is added to many products, especially confectionery products.

In addition, Vanillin is used in the production of cosmetics and perfumes to enhance their fragrance and eliminate undesirable odors. Cosmetics with Vanillin as a fragrance include soaps, shower gels, lotions or deodorants. Vanilla also adds a special flavor to lip care products. It has a soothing, calming effect on the skin and strengthens blood vessels.

Vanillin or Ethyl Vanillin is also an ingredient in cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Tobacco manufacturers use it as a flavoring agent, and it can be added to tobacco, cigarette paper or filters. Vanillin can make up to 0.05% of the total weight of tobacco used in a single cigarette.

A synthetic substitute for vanilla is also found as an intermediate in the pharmaceutical industry or in room and car air fresheners. It is also used as a chemical reagent, for example in the production of sulfovanillin, the reagent used in the microscopic examination of fungi.

Vanillin in the food industry

Vanillin in the food industry

Vanillin is widely used in the food industry as a flavoring agent. It is most commonly found in sweet products, especially ice cream and chocolate, but also in chocolate bars, creams, cakes, cookies, drinks or instant noodles. In addition, Vanillin is a component of vanillin sugar, which is a very popular product in the confectionery industry.

Vanillin is used in various alcoholic and soft drinks to reduce the use of sugar and other sweeteners.

Vanillin in the pharmaceutical industry

Besides the very well-known use of Vanillin in the food industry, the synthetic vanilla substitute is also used in pharmaceuticals. It has anticancer, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Vanillin is also added to medicines to mask their bitter taste.

Vanillin is found in medications for arthritis, allergies and gout. It is also a component of many antibiotics and antifungals.

Vanillin – an important ingredient for industry

As you can easily see, Vanilin has many uses in industry. Its intense aroma and flavor are used by manufacturers not only in the food industry. Since it is cheaper to produce than ordinary vanilla, its importance and use has increased worldwide in recent years.

It is also worth mentioning that Vanillin is not harmful to health. Like most substances, in the right dose it does not cause any adverse effects.

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Learn about “Vanillin”
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