Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Article] How Sweet It Is: All About Sugar Substitutes


How Sweet It Is: All About Sugar Substitutes
.

 

From the 19 May 2014 FDA article

High-intensity sweeteners

Red envelope icon for Govdelivery Get Consumer Updates by E-mail

RSS feed orange symbol Consumer Updates RSS Feed

pdf icon small Print & Share (PDF 236 K)

En Español

Whether it’s to cut down on the number of calories they consume or any of a variety of other reasons, some people use sugar substitutes – also called high-intensity sweeteners – to sweeten and add flavor to their foods. They can be used alone to sweeten foods and beverages such as iced tea or coffee, or as an ingredient in other products. There are a number of sugar substitutes on the market from which to choose.

“Sugar substitutes are called ‘high-intensity’ because small amounts pack a large punch when it comes to sweetness,” says Captain Andrew Zajac, U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), director of the Division of Petition Review at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to Zajac, unlike sweeteners such as sugar, honey, or molasses, high-intensity sweeteners add few or no calories to the foods they flavor. Also, high-intensity sweeteners generally do not raise blood sugar levels.

The FDA has approved a new high-intensity sweetener called advantame.

Advantame—which does not yet have a brand name (such as Sweet’N Low, a brand name for saccharin, or Equal, a brand name for aspartame)—has been approved as a new food additive for use as a sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods, except meat and poultry.

Examples of uses for which advantame has been approved include baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages (including soft drinks), chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings, and syrups.

How Do You Know It’s Safe?

FDA is required by law to review all new food additives for safety before they can go on the market. The process begins when a company submits a food additive petition to FDA seeking approval. One exception is for substances “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, because those substances are generally recognized by qualified experts as safe under the conditions of intended use and are exempt from the food additive approval process.

Zajac explains that the agency’s scientists thoroughly review all the scientific evidence submitted by a company to ensure the product is safe for the intended use.

“In determining the safety of advantame, FDA reviewed data from 37 animal and human studies designed to identify possible toxic (harmful) effects, including effects on the immune, reproductive and developmental, and nervous systems,” Zajac says.

Advantame is chemically related to aspartame, and certain individuals should avoid or restrict the use of aspartame. To that end, FDA evaluated whether the same individuals should avoid or restrict advantame, as well.

People who have phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic disorder, have a difficult time metabolizing phenylalanine, a component of both aspartame and advantame. Newborns are tested for PKU using a common “heel-prick” test before they leave the hospital.

Foods containing aspartame must bear an information statement for people with PKU alerting them about the presence of phenylalanine. But advantame is much sweeter than aspartame, so only a very small amount needs to be used to reach the same level of sweetness. As a result, foods containing advantame do not need to bear that statement.

Five Already on the Market

The last high-intensity sweetener approved by FDA was Neotame (brand name Newtame) in 2002. The other four on the market, and are:

  • Saccharin, was first discovered and used in 1879, before the current food additive approval process came into effect in 1958. Brand names include Sweet‘N Low
  • Aspartame, first approved for use in 1981. Brand names include Equal
  • Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), first approved for use in 1988. Brand names include Sweet One
  • Sucralose, first approved for use in 1998. Brand name is Splenda

In addition to the six high-intensity sweeteners that are FDA-approved as food additives, the agency has received and has not questioned GRAS notices for two types of plant/fruit based high-intensity sweeteners: certain steviol glycosides obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni) and extracts obtained from Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo or monk fruit.

While these high-intensity sweeteners are considered safe for their intended uses, certain individuals may have a particular sensitivity or adverse reaction to any food substance. Consumers should share with their health care provider any concerns they have about a negative food reaction.

In addition, FDA encourages consumers to report any adverse events through MedWatch: FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Food and health…again

Yes, this post is a bit left of center from most of my posts.
But it does raise some valid concerns.
The related articles are just a few ways some folks are trying their best to alert us and coax us into changing unhealthy food choices.

 

From the 23 August 2013 post at eek.ology

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found this on the image site imgur.com recently and it blew me away with its accuracy. I’m living in a country which seems to produce food largely based on fat, salt and sugar. I walk into the supermarket and have to check ingredients on cheese and yoghurt and jam and ice cream to avoid rBGH and high fructose corn syrup. I go to a pharmacy and they’re selling crisps and chocolate and cigarettes and booze. Things that were once simple aren’t anymore.  Once I just needed to worry about cage free eggs. Now I’m trying to toss up the environmental damage of the food miles of cheese from Europe vs. the health implications of local cheese from cows that have been treated with rBGH.

Wendell Berry is right. The connection between food and health (and indeed our environment), while it is so blatantly, blatantly obvious, is so frequently ignored.  We ignore what is in front of our noses in both the literal and metaphorical sense every single day, and our health is getting worse for it.

 

Some Related Organizations (variety of types & organizational values)

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | health care, Nutrition | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: