ADA 2010: The latest in nonnutritive sweeteners

July 1, 2010

Patients and providers who look for saccharine packets may like the product-or they may not realize the range of nonnutritive, noncaloric sweeteners currently available.

Patients and providers who look for saccharine packets may like the product-or they may not realize the range of nonnutritive, noncaloric sweeteners currently available.

“The market for nonnutritive sweeteners has changed dramatically these past few years,” said Beth Hubrich, MS, RD, executive director, Calorie Control Council (CCC), Atlanta, Georgia. “The use of nonnutritive sweeteners continues to grow.”

The CCC represents the reduced-calorie and low-fat food and beverage industries.

Current nonnutritive sweeteners on the US market include acesulfame K, aspartame, neotomae, saccharin, stevia, and sucralose, Hubrich reported. The FDA has established an allowable daily intake (ADI) for each entity, based on animal safety data. Aspartame, for example, has an ADI of 50 mg/kg per day, whereas sucralose has an ADI of 5 mg/kg per day.

Surveys are used to establish an estimated daily intake (EDI). The EDI for aspartame in the general population is 6% of the ADI, Hubrich continued. The EDI is 6.6% for people with diabetes, who typically used more nonnutritive sweeteners than the general population.

That is probably good news, Hubrich noted, and not just because it means that people with diabetes are using more nonnutritive sweeteners and less sugar. Use of nonnutritive sweeteners is also associated with a higher intake of fresh fruit, more green leafy vegetables, more whole grains, less meat, and a generally healthier diet.

Stevia is the hottest nonnutritive sweetener on the market today, she continued. It can be used to sweeten food and beverages as well as in cooking and baking. Depending on the manufacturer, stevia is sold in packets, shakers, tablets, and granulated form.

The next nonnutritive sweetener on the market could be advantame, made by Ajinomoto. It is a combination of aspartame and vanillin and is 20,000 times sweeter than sucrose or 100 times sweeter than aspartame.

“This may be the most potent sweetener on the market,” Hubrich said.

A Food Additive Petition was filed with FDA in April 2009, but there are no official predictions on when it might be approved.

In the meantime, the industry is developing a variety of blended nonnutritive sweeteners such as aspartame-saccharin for use in soft drinks. Other combinations include aspartame-acesulfame K and sucralose-acesulfame K. The goal, Hubrich explained, is improved taste profile. “Taste is always king. If it doesn’t taste good, patients aren’t interested.”