The Truth about Sugar Substitutes

November 9, 2015

People turn to sugar substitutes to cut down on calories or for other reasons. Another name for them is high-intensity sweeteners and they are used to replace regular table sugar. They are often used alone to sweeten foods and beverages or can be combined with other ingredients if foods you buy at the store. There are many different sugar substitutes that you can buy on the market today.

These sugar substitutes are called “high intensity” because they have a large punch in the sweetness factor according to U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) director of the Division of Petition Review at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Captain Andrew Zajac.

Zajac says that regular sweeteners like molasses, honey or sugar, these high-intensity sweeteners add no calories or few calories to foods and don’t raise blood sugar levels in general. A new high-intensity sweetener called advantame, has been approved by the FDA.

The sweetener Advantame doesn’t have a brand name yet such as Equal, a brand name for aspartame or Sweet’N Low, a brand name for saccharin. It has been approved for use as a food additive and to add flavor enhancement for foods except in poultry and other meats.

Examples that the new sweetener has been approved for include non-alcoholic beverages, baked goods, confections, chewing gum, frostings, puddings, gelatins, frozen desserts, jellies, jams, fruit juices, processed fruits, syrups, and toppings.

Are These Sugar Substitutes Safe?

By law the FDA is required to review new food additives before they are released to market. When the company submits a food additive petition to the FDA the review process begins. One exception is for products that are deemed to be “generally recognized as safe,” or what is called GRAS. These are recognized by experts as safe under their intended use and don’t have to go through the food additive approval process like other additives do. Zajac indicates that the agency reviews all the scientific evidence a company provides before any product is deemed to be safe for the use intended.

Advantame was reviewed by the FDA by using 37 human and animal studies to look for harmful effects such as those on the nervous, developmental, reproductive, and immune systems of the body according to Zajac.

The product advantame is relate dot the sweetener aspartame and some individuals should restrict or avoid the use of aspartame. The studies also look at whether these individuals should refrain from the use of advantame as well.

Those with PKU) or phenylketonuria which is a rare genetic disorder can’t metabolize phenylalanine completely which is in both advantame and aspartame. Newborns get a test for PKU before they leave the hospital to ensure they can tolerate aspartame if it’s given to them.

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