The best overview of xylitol production that I could find (written for
lay readers) is by Professor Mäkinen of the University of Turku,
Finland. Here are some extracts from his comprehensive article:
"Various forest and agricultural materials rich in hemicellulose
have been used as a raw material in xylitol manufacturing.
Hemicellulose is chemically a xylan ... Xylans are typically
present in certain hardwoods (such as birch and beech), rice,
oat, wheat and cotton seed hulls, various nut shells, straw,
corn cobs and stalks, sugar cane bagasse, etc."
"In the manufacturing process of xylitol (2), the xylan
molecules are first hydrolyzed into D-xylose. The latter is
chemically reduced to xylitol which can be separated by
large-scale column chromatography. Xylitol is finally
crystallized. The entire process is complicated and demands
great engineering skills and experience."
"Xylitol can, of course, be synthesized by means of organic
chemical procedures ... Xylitol can also be made by means of
bacterial fermentations ... These processes have not been
History, Safety, and Dental Properties of Xylitol
So, the xylitol that you can buy certainly could not be called a "raw,
whole-food product". However, that's not the whole picture. Continuing
to quote from Professor Mäkinen:
"Because xylitol occurs naturally in agricultural and
forest products, xylitol also occurs in various foods
used by man. The dietary sources containing relatively
high quantities of xylitol are plums, raspberries and
cauliflower ... The presence of free xylitol in food
indicates that man and certain domestic animals have
consumed xylitol during their entire evolution."
Also, our own bodies constantly produce xylitol:
"In humans, relatively large amounts of xylitol (viz. 5 to
15 g/day) are formed as a metabolic intermediate product
of carbohydrate metabolism."
A vast amount of further information on the production, metabolic
features, oral and metabolic safety etc is also found at the
There is some additional information available at the Wikipedia page
mentioned in the comments by myoarin-ga:
Wikipedia - Xylitol
including a warning that xylitol is harmful to dogs, who have a
different metabolism to humans (dogs are harmed by eating chocolate
To summarise: commercially-obtainable xylitol is not a raw whole-food
product, though xylitol itself is a natural substance. Xylitol does
not cause tooth decay and has no known toxicity to humans.
I trust this provides the information you require.
Google Search Strategy:
xylitol production OR manufacturing
Xylitol production from sorghum straw hydrolysates: