What is Your Vinegar Made From?

I have always been told that vinegar is healthy and natural,  it is in so many products and you would think it’s an ingredient that is completely benign. I was shocked to recently discover that the plain distilled white vinegar that I was buying at the grocery store is made from petroleum. Unfortunately it is the position of our government to side with the chemical companies on any issue they can.

Any vinegar product that does not state what the vinegar is made from has most likely been made from petroleum. What’s your vinegar made from? I looked at what I thought was apple cider vinegar in a grocery store, it turned out to be distilled white vinegar with apple cider flavoring. I am not usually one to promote companies like Heinz but they are the only national brand I know of that only uses grain to produce their vinegar.

In addition to vinegar, alcohol that is used as an ingredient in medicines is almost always made from petroleum. Maybe that’s why cough medicine tastes so awful. Only products that don’t require proper labeling use petroleum based alcohol. I don’t see anyone trying to market petroleum flavored vodka.

This is what the FDA has to say:

“Presently, we authorize the manufacture of vinegar from ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum derivatives. It is our opinion that most of the distilled spirits used in the production of vinegar are derived from natural gas and petroleum. When such alcohol is used in the production of vinegar, we would consider any reference to ‘grain alcohol’ or ‘neutral grain spirits’ would be misleading for the alcohol and also the name ‘grain vinegar’ would be misleading, except for connoting strength, e.g., 40-grains.

“When alcohol is used in the production of beverage products, our regulations require that the source of the alcohol be shown on the label except for cordials and liqueurs. Incidentally, I might add that most of the alcohol used in the production of medicinal preparations and flavors is synthetic.”

Practically and scientifically, pure ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum products does not differ from that obtained by fermentation with subsequent distillation. Furthermore, foods in which one is used cannot be distinguished objectively from those in which the other is used.


Synthetic ethyl alcohol may be used as a food ingredient or in the manufacturing of vinegar or other chemicals for food use, within limitations imposed by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Alcohol Administration Act, and regulations promulgated under these acts.

Here is the link to the full page:


I just don’t understand how vinegar and alcohol made from petroleum are considered by the government to be identical to their natural counterparts. I also feel that the lack of labeling requirements for the petroleum derived products is a clear deception of the consumer. Would most people continue to buy them if they were aware of where they came from? I stopped using petroleum based vinegar as soon as I found out.

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