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New artificial sweetener gains FDA approval

By Maggie Hennessy

Last updated on 22-May-2014 at 14:54 GMT2014-05-22T14:54:01Z

New artificial sweetener gains FDA approval

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the sweetener advantame for general use in food and beverages. 

The ultra-potent, vanillin- and aspartame-based sweetener from Ajinomoto North America Inc. is approved as a general purpose sweetener in foods and mixes ranging from tabletop sweeteners and powered soft drinks to carbonated drinks, fruit juices, baked products, desserts, chewing gums, jams, jellies and icings. (Read the Federal Register notice here .)

Advantame has a clean sugar-like sweetness with “no off flavors,” and is approximately 20,000 times sweeter than sucrose, though Ajinomoto says the sweetness level varies somewhat depending on the application—nonetheless recommending minimal usage given the ingredient's intensity. 

Taste panels conducted by the firm found that caloric sweeteners in some beverages could be reduced “up to 30 or 40%” with no difference in perceived flavor and sweetness with the addition of advantame. The ingredient can also be used as a flavor enhancer for ingredients such as dairy, fruit and mint.

“Advantame blends well with both caloric and non-caloric sweeteners, providing food and beverage companies with an opportunity to reduce calories and manage their sweetness costs,” a company spokesperson said. “It’s premature to talk about specific price comparisons, but advantame is very cost effective and has a very low cost-in-use.”

The US follows Australia and New Zealand in its approval of advantame as a general purpose sweetener. Final approvals in the European Union and Japan are pending. Advantame is the sixth artificial sweetener to gain FDA approval, joining acesulfame potassium (ace-K), aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and neotame.

Rising obesity rates in the US present an ongoing quandary for public health officials and advocacy groups alike, with the sugar industry assuming a lot of the blame. The World Health Organization recently lowered its recommended daily sugar intake from 10% to 5% of total daily calories, and the American Heart Association’s new guidelines call for women to limit added sugars to 100 calories per day, 150 for men—far less than a full sugar-sweetened 12-ounce soft drink.

Yet, taste remains the most important factor for consumers when choosing a product, which has long been a factor for marketers of high-intensity sweeteners. (Read more about tackling sugar reduction .)

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