High-Intensity Sweeteners

High-intensity sweeteners are commonly used as sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives because they are many times sweeter than sugar but contribute only a few to no calories when added to foods. High-intensity sweeteners, like all other ingredients added to food in the United States, must be safe for consumption.

What are high-intensity sweeteners?

High-intensity sweeteners are ingredients used to sweeten and enhance the flavor of foods. Because high-intensity sweeteners are many times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), smaller amounts of high-intensity sweeteners are needed to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar in food. People may choose to use high-intensity sweeteners in place of sugar for a number of reasons, including that they do not contribute calories or only contribute a few calories to the diet. High-intensity sweeteners also generally will not raise blood sugar levels.

How does FDA regulate the use of high-intensity sweeteners in food?

A high intensity sweetener is regulated as a food additive, unless its use as a sweetener is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The use of a food additive must undergo premarket review and approval by FDA before it can be used in food. In contrast, use of a GRAS substance does not require premarket approval. Rather, the basis for a GRAS determination based on scientific procedures is that experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate its safety conclude, based on publically available information, that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use. A company can make an independent GRAS determination for a substance with or without notifying FDA. Regardless of whether a substance is approved for use as a food additive or its use is determined to be GRAS, scientists must determine that it meets the safety standard of reasonable certainty of no harm under the intended conditions of its use. This standard of safety is defined in FDA’s regulations.

Which high-intensity sweeteners are permitted for use in food?

Six high-intensity sweeteners are FDA-approved as food additives in the United States: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose,  neotame, and advantame.

GRAS notices have been submitted to FDA for two types of 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).

In what foods are high-intensity sweeteners typically found?

High-intensity sweeteners are widely used in foods and beverages marketed as “sugar-free” or “diet,” including baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jams and jellies, dairy products, and scores of other foods and beverages.

How do I know if high-intensity sweeteners are used in a particular food product?

Consumers can identify the presence of high-intensity sweeteners by name in the ingredient list on food product labels.

Are high-intensity sweeteners safe to eat?

Based on the available scientific evidence, the agency has concluded that the high-intensity sweeteners approved by FDA are safe for the general population under certain conditions of use. For certain highly-purified steviol glycosides and extracts obtained from monk fruit, FDA has not questioned the notifiers’ GRAS determinations under the intended conditions of use described in the GRAS notices submitted to FDA.

Post time: Nov-01-2022