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Artificial Sweeteners: What does FSSAI say?

Artificial Sweeteners: What does FSSAI say?

An artificial sweetener is a food additive that is an artificial sugar substitute, which provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy.

The FSSAI has approved five artificial sweeteners, namely, Saccharin sodium, Aspartame (methyl ester), Acesulfame potassium, Sucralose andNeotame.

Saccharin is an artificial sweetener with effectively no food energy which is about 300-400 times as sweet as sucrose or table sugar, but has a bitter or metallic aftertaste, especially at high concentrations.

Saccharin sodium is recommended by FSSAI for use in the following foodstuff at the maximum permitted levels indicated within brackets:

  • Soft drinks (100 ppm)
  • Pan masala (8000 ppm)
  • Traditional sweets (500 ppm)
  • Chocolate (500 ppm)
  • Sugar based/sugar free confectionery (3000 ppm)
  • Chewing gum/bubble gum (3000 ppm)

Aspartame is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. In the European Union (EU), it’s E number (additive code) is E951. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide. The safety of aspartame has been subject to a number of controversies, since its initial approval by the USFDA in 1981. However, the European Food Safety Authority finally concluded in its 2013 re-evaluation that aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure, corroborating other medical studies. However, since its breakdown products include phenylalanine, aspartame must be avoided by people with the genetic condition phenylketonuria (PKU).

Aspartame is recommended by FSSAI for use in the following foodstuff at the maximum permitted levels indicated within brackets:

  • Soft drinks (700 ppm)
  • Biscuits, bread, cakes and pastries (2200 ppm)
  • Traditional sweets (200 ppm)
  • Jam, jellies and marmalades (1000 ppm)
  • Chocolate (2000 ppm)
  • Sugar based/sugar free confectionery (10000 ppm)
  • Chewing gum/bubble gum (10000 ppm)
  • Custard powder mix (1000 ppm)
  • Fruit/vegetable nectar (600 ppm)
  • Ice cream, frozen dessert and pudding (1000 ppm)
  • Flavored milk (600 ppm)
  • Ready to serve tea/coffee based beverages (600 ppm)
  • Yoghurt (600 ppm)

Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), is a calorie-free sugar substitute (artificial sweetener). In the EU, it is known under the E number (additive code) E950. It was discovered accidentally in 1967 by German chemist Karl Clauss at Hoechst AG. Acesulfame potassium is a white crystalline powder with a molecular weight of ~201 g/mol. Acesulfame K is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (common sugar), as sweet as aspartame, about 2/3 as sweet as saccharin, and 1/3 as sweet as sucralose. Like saccharin, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, especially at high concentrations.

Acesulfame potassium is recommended by FSSAI for use in the following foodstuff at the maximum permitted levels indicated within brackets:

  • Soft drinks (300 ppm)
  • Biscuits, bread, cakes and pastries (1000 ppm)
  • Traditional sweets (500 ppm)
  • Chocolate (500 ppm)
  • Sugar based/ Sugar free confectionery (3500 ppm)
  • Chewing gum/ bubble gum (5000 ppm)
  • Ready to serve tea/coffee based beverages (600 ppm)
  • Ice lollies / ice candy (800 ppm)
  • Fruit nectars (300 ppm)

Sucralose is a non-nutritive sweetener, the majority of which is not broken down by the body, so it is non-caloric. In the EU, it is also known under the E number E955. Sucralose is about 320-1,000 times as sweet as sucrose, twice as sweet as saccharin, and three times as sweet as aspartame. It is stable under heat and over a broad range of pH conditions. Therefore, it can be used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life. The commercial success of sucralose-based products stems from its favorable comparison to other low-calorie sweeteners in terms of taste, stability, and safety.

Sucralose is recommended by FSSAI for use in the following foodstuff at the maximum permitted levels indicated within brackets:

  • Soft drinks (300 ppm)
  • Biscuits (including cookies), bread, cakes and pastries (750 ppm)
  • Traditional sweets (750 ppm)
  • Yoghurt (300 ppm)
  • Ice cream/dried ice cream mixes/frozen dessert/kulfi (400 ppm)
  • Ice lollies/ice candy (800 ppm)
  • Jam, jellies and marmalades (450 ppm)
  • Chutney (800 ppm)
  • Confectionery (1500 ppm)
  • Chocolate (800 ppm)
  • Chewing gum (1250 ppm)
  • Doughnuts /scones /muffins (800 ppm)
  • Ready to serve tea/coffee based beverages (600 ppm)
  • Vegetable juice/nectar (250 ppm)
  • Custard powder/ ready to eat custard dessert (260 ppm)

Neotame is an artificial sweetener that is between 7,000 and 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). In the EU, it is known by the E number E961. It is moderately heat-stable, extremely potent, rapidly metabolized, completely eliminated and does not appear to accumulate in the body. It’s metabolism yields methanol, but because only trace amounts of neotame are needed to sweeten foods, the amount of methanol derived from neotame is much lower than that found in common foods. The product is attractive to food manufacturers, as its use greatly lowers the cost of production compared to using sugar or high fructose corn syrup (due to the lower quantities needed to achieve the same sweetening), while also benefitting the consumer by providing fewer “empty” sugar calories and a lower impact on blood sugar.

Neotame is recommended by FSSAI for use in soft drinks only at a maximum permitted level of 33 ppm.

Isomaltulose has recently been added in the list of Artificial Sweeteners in Regulation No. 3.1 of FSS (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. Isomaltulose is allowed to be used in the confectionery products and the maximum limit shall be 50 per cent (max) of total sugar without adversely affecting the stability of the product. Ice lollies or edible ices have been excluded from the confectionery products category.

Isomaltulose is allowed to be used as an artificial sweetener for the following:

  • Chewing gum/bubble gum (GMP)
  • Sugar based/sugar free confectionary (GMP)
  • Chocolate (GMP)
  • Lozenges (GMP)

The values of isomaltulose should be 50 per cent (max) of total sugar without adversely affecting the stability of the above discussed food products.

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