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"ICUMSA (International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis) is a world-wide body which brings together the activities of the National Committees for Sugar Analysis in more than thirty member countries.

An ICUMSA rating is an international unit for expressing the purity of the sugar in solution, and is directly related to the colour of the sugar. Be aware that there are different types of ICUMSA units.

For Brazilian sugar, the lower the ICUMSA figure the whiter the sugar. For example, in Brazil SGS has an ICUMSA rating of 45 rbu for refined, indicating the highest quality, with other grades of lower quality (such as Special Extra Crystal) having a higher ICUMSA of 150 and so forth. This rating method is confirmed by the Institute of Sugar and Alcohol in Brazil.

Common Grades

Below are some general guidelines on ICUMSA ratings, based on the Brazilian system :
  • ICUMSA 45 - White Refined Granulated Sugar: The most highly refined form of sugar. This sugar has a sparkling white color, and is the type most often sold direct to consumers in the form of sugar cubes, bags of sugar, and in sugar sachets
  • ICUMSA 100 – 150 - Extra Special White Crystal Sugar: Considered food grade sugar, this sugar is often used in large scale baking, drinks making, or the production of other food stuffs.
  • ICUMSA 200 - Special White Crystal Sugar: Food grade sugar suitable for less demanding applications where appearance is not integral to the function of the sugar.
  • ICUMSA 600-800 - Consumable Brown Sugar: This sugar is consumable by humans, and is generally regarded as being very tasty on porridge.
  • Any sugar above ICUMSA 800 is not suitable for humans however, and needs to undergo further refining to remove bacteria and other contaminants.
  • ICUMSA 800-1200 - Very High Polarization (VHP) Sugar.
  • ICUMSA 1600 – 2000 - Raw Sugar: Suitable for further refining, and in some areas of the world may be incorporated into foodstuffs or beauty products.
  • ICUMSA 4600 MAX - Very Raw Sugar: This type of sugar has undergone very little refining, if any. This is generally regarded as being raw sugar which is then sent to refineries to be refined into any of the above grades of sugar