L-cysteine/L-cystine

Commercial Source: animal (duck feathers, human hair), synthetic, bacterial.
Exists in: living organisms.
Used in: baked goods, flavors, food supplements.
Definition: An amino acid needed by humans which can be produced by the human body. It must be consumed in the diet.

Product information: A small quantity of L-cysteine is used as a dough conditioner in most bread products. Approximately 80% of all L-cysteine used today is duck feather-derived. More expensive synthetic (Ajinomoto) or bacterial (Wacker biochem Corp) forms are commercially available. L-cysteine does not have to be labeled as an ingredient in all cases. Please see article below for more details on the subject.

lactalbumin

See albumin

lac-resin

Also known as: shellac.
Commercial source: animal (insect).
Used on fruit, candy, pills.
Definition: An insect secretion used as a produce coating in combination with a wax. This substance is collected from the trees where the beetles deposited the shellac.
Vegetarian

lactase

Commercial source: Typically fungal.
Exists in: all living organisms which digest milk.
Used in: milk products, dietary supplements.
Definition: An enzyme which digests the milk sugar, lactose.
Typically Vegetarian

lactic acid

Also known as: butyl lactate, ethyl lactate.
Commercial source: microbial or vegetable.
Used in: cheese, cheese spreads, butter, beverages, beer, salad dressing mixes, confections, breads, olives, frozen desserts, jellies, jams.
Definition: A common additive which has several functions such as flavoring agent or preservative.
Typically Vegan

Product information: Archer Daniels Midland Co., a manufacturer of lactic acid, reports that they use hydrolyzed cornstarch only. Purac America, Inc. says that they use beet sugar as the fermentation medium

lactose

See carbohydrate.

lard

Also known as: lard oil, pork fat, pork oil.
Commercial source: animal (hog).
Used in: refried beans, chewing gum, baked goods, processed foods, maple syrup production.
Definition: Always of animal origin, lard is the purified, internal fat from the stomach of the hog.
Non-Vegetarian

lactic acid

Also known as: butyl lactate, ethyl lactate.
Commercial source: microbial or vegetable.
Used in: cheese, cheese spreads, butter, beverages, beer, salad dressing mixes, confections, breads, olives, frozen desserts, jellies, jams.
Definition: A common additive which has several functions such as flavoring agent or preservative.
Typically Vegan

Product information: Archer Daniels Midland Co., a manufacturer of lactic acid, reports that they use hydrolyzed cornstarch only. Purac America, Inc. says that they use beet sugar as the fermentation medium

lactose

See carbohydrate.

lard

Also known as: lard oil, pork fat, pork oil.
Commercial source: animal (hog).
Used in: refried beans, chewing gum, baked goods, processed foods, maple syrup production.
Definition: Always of animal origin, lard is the purified, internal fat from the stomach of the hog.
Non-Vegetarian

leavening agent

Also known as: leavener.
Commercial source: Typically fungal, mineral.
Used in: baked goods, flour, cake mixes, beer, wine.
Examples: yeast, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate.
Definition: A food additive which releases gas into foods, lightening the texture. In beer and wine, the leavener (yeast) is responsible for the chemical reaction which produces the alcohol.
Typically Vegan

lecithin

Commercial source: Typically vegetable.
Exists in: egg yolks, the tissues and organs of many animals, some vegetables such as soybeans, peanuts, and corn.
Used in: breakfast cereals, confections, margarine, baked goods, chocolate, frozen desserts, rendered animal fat, vegetable fat-animal fat blends, soft drinks.
Definition: A substance commonly used in foods which are high in fats and oils in order to make dissimilar substances, such as oil and water, blend and/or stay blended.
Typically Vegan

Product information: Archer Daniels Midland Co., a major manufacturer of lecithin, extracts it from soybeans

levulose

See fructose.

lime

Commercial source: mineral.
Used in: fortified foods, mineral supplements.
Definition: A calcium-containing compound which is the major commercial source of calcium in food additives.
Vegan

lecithin

Commercial source: Typically vegetable.
Exists in: egg yolks, the tissues and organs of many animals, some vegetables such as soybeans, peanuts, and corn.
Used in: breakfast cereals, confections, margarine, baked goods, chocolate, frozen desserts, rendered animal fat, vegetable fat-animal fat blends, soft drinks.
Definition: A substance commonly used in foods which are high in fats and oils in order to make dissimilar substances, such as oil and water, blend and/or stay blended.
Typically Vegan

Product information: Archer Daniels Midland Co., a major manufacturer of lecithin, extracts it from soybeans

lipase

Commercial source: animal (typically hog- or cow-derived), fungal.
Used in: cheese, cheese products, margarine, ice cream, cream, chocolate confections.
Definition: The general term for enzymes which break down fats.
Typically Non-Vegetarian

locust bean gum

Also known as: St. John’s bread, carob bean gum.
Commercial source: vegetable.
Used in: beverage flavorings, ice cream, candy, baked goods, gelatin desserts, pie fillings, barbeque sauce, whipped foods, cheese products, icings, toppings.
Definition: A vegetable gum derived from the seeds of the carob tree.
Vegan

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
About L-Cysteine But Were Afraid to Ask

Did you know that L-CYSTEINE — A common dough conditioner, flavor enhancer in human and pet foods, and precursor in some dietary supplementsis most often derived from human hair or duck feathers and to a lesser extent from pigs’ bristles and hooves?

Ten years ago, the most common source was human hair found on the floors of Chinese barbershops. Today, it is derived from Chinese duck feathers approximately 80 percent of the time (estimation based on values given by several companies that manufacture and sell L-cysteine).

At least two forms of synthetic L-cysteine that were not readily available in 1997, though L-cysteine, is manufactured today. They are produced by Ajinomoto and Wacker Biochem. Ajinomoto stated that it uses industrial chemicals that undergo a biochemical transformation brought about by non-animal enzymes. Previously selling both the ‘natural’ (i.e., animal- or human-derived L-cysteine) and synthetic forms, Ajinomoto completely switched in 2000 to selling only the synthetic form of L-cysteine. Wacker Biochem informed me that they produce L-cysteine through a microbial fermentation process developed in 2001 using corn sugar as the growth medium. Since both forms are expensive, they are not commonly used. According to both companies, the synthetic forms of L-cysteine are certified kosher and halal. L-cysteine derived from human hair or duck feathers may or may not be certified kosher and/or halal.

The use of synthetic L-cysteine could increase over time. Doug Hackett of Premium Ingredients, a major supplier of L-cysteine derived from human hair or duck feathers, told us that he’s recently had to turn away several potential customers looking for synthetic L-cysteine because Premium sells only the non-synthetic variety. Requests from customers concerned about human- or animal-derived ingredients in their foods could also accelerate the use of synthetic L-cysteine in foods over feather- or human hair-derived L-cysteine.

L-cysteine is considered a substance that is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It must be labeled by its “common and usual name” (i.e., “L-cysteine”) on food packages, even if present in very small amounts, as long as it has a functional effect in foods. In other cases, such as when it is used to make flavors that are in foods, it does not have to be labeled. When L-cysteine does have to be labeled, its source does not have to be specified, according to the FDA.

While researching L-cysteine,  several fast food chains and a major vegetarian food company was asked about the sources of L-cysteine in their products. McDonald’s told me that L-cysteine derived from duck feathers is in their Honey Wheat Roll, the Deluxe Warm Cinnamon Roll, and the Baked Apple Pie. The L-cysteine in several items offered at Dunkin’ Donuts is also derived from duck feathers. Burger King/Hungry Jack’s  stated that it “could not guarantee” the source of L-cysteine in its products.

On the other hand, Subway announced that in 2007  it has removed the L-cysteine from its otherwise animal product-free Carb Conscious Wrap. When asked about the source of L-cysteine in several of Domino’s Pizza products, the company told me that L-cysteine is “microbially derived” in its Hand- Tossed Crust and informed me that the L-cysteine in Domino’s Breadsticks, Cheesy Bread, and Cinna Stix® is “vegetable-derived.” The public relations firm for Morningstar Farms told us that the L-cysteine in their Veggie Bites Country Scramble, Veggie Bites Spinach Artichoke, and Veggie Bites Eggs Florentine was a “microbial fermentation product.”