How to Audit Sugar Mills

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Confectioner's sugar is highly refined to a powder.
Confectioner's sugar is highly refined to a powder. (Image: doughnut with sugar image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Sugar is produced from harvested sugar cane or sugar beets and processed by a sugar mill. The milling process extracts juice from the beets and cane with grinding pressure. Extracted sugar proceeds through a purification process that removes impurities. Sugar is further refined to different granule grades and bleached with limestone as appropriate. Beet pulp can be sold for a filler in cattle feed and cane pulp can be burned as a biomass fuel. Audits of sugar mills test for quality standards, accuracy and regulatory compliance.s

Verify that farm sources of sugar cane are supplying the contracted amounts of sugar cane. Confirm accounting invoices that reflect that the mill is paying the contracted rate for the sugar cane.

Verify that sugar cane imports do not exceed the limitations set by the USDA.
Verify that sugar cane imports do not exceed the limitations set by the USDA. (Image: Tractor with Sugar Cane image by Liz from Fotolia.com)

Check equipment functioning capacity. Validate equipment maintenance records. Ensure that cold digesters, boilers, distillers and other equipment meet local ordinances and state regulations for what is acceptable and what is required in manufacturing sugar.

Measure the efficiency standards of equipment used.
Measure the efficiency standards of equipment used. (Image: distillerie rhum image by Christophe Fouquin from Fotolia.com)

Interview a sample of random employees to verify that employees are similarly trained in company quality control measures. Ask about any safety incidents that have occurred over the previous year. Verify whether these incidents have been documented on an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accident incident report.

Mill workers may report incidents that management has failed to document.
Mill workers may report incidents that management has failed to document. (Image: bauleitung 1 image by GYNEX from Fotolia.com)

Confirm the types of sugar that the mill produces. Brown sugar, turbinado, "raw" sugar and white table sugar are prepared by different methods. Evaluate the methods for producing the different sugar products manufactured by the mill. Compare these methods to industry standards. Brown sugar, for example, is made by leaving some amount of molasses in the sugar when it goes through the centrifuge. Turbinado is steamed rather than boiled to reduce impurities. So called "raw" sugar is sugar that has not been bleached or refined to a fine grain. Estimate whether the quality of the products produced meets the company's documented quality standards for the amount of impurities that pass through the final quality inspection.

"Raw" sugar is refined sugar that is not bleached.
"Raw" sugar is refined sugar that is not bleached. (Image: brown sugar image by Bube from Fotolia.com)

Identify the packaging for each type of sugar. Measure the labeling on consumer retail packaging against the Federal Drug Administration requirements for labeling and nutrition.

Consumer packaging must contain the name of the mill and nutritional information.
Consumer packaging must contain the name of the mill and nutritional information. (Image: sugar image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com)

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