Five FDAApproved GRAS Artificial Sweeteners

Acesulfame potassium (Acesulfame-K) was discovered in 1967 and approved for use in the United States in 1988. Its trade name is Sunette. Two hundred times sweeter than sucrose, this sweetener is stable when heated, making it suitable for cooking. However, when used in large amounts it has a bitter aftertaste. It is not broken down by the body, and it does not provide any calories. Over ninety scientific studies have been conducted by the FDA, and the World Health Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has also endorsed Acesulfame K's safety.

Aspartame was discovered in 1969 and approved for use in the United States in 1981. Its trade name is NutraSweet. Also two hundred times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is not suitable in applications that require high temperatures, as it loses its sweetness when heated. It contains four calories per gram, but, because of its intense sweetness, the amount of energy derived from it is negligible. It is synthesized from aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two essential amino acids. Persons with the rare hereditary metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU), an inborn error of metabolism, must control their intake of phenylalanine from all sources, including aspartame, and therefore all U.S. products containing aspartame are labeled "This product contains phenylalanine." Because it is impossible to know if an unborn child has PKU, it is recommended that pregnant women not use aspartame. The FDA states that aspartame is the most thoroughly tested food additive ever submitted to the agency.

Neotame was discovered in 1990 and was approved for use in the United States in 2002. Eight thousand times sweeter than sugar, this analog of aspartame can be used in both cooking and baking applications. Although neotame is a derivative of aspartame, it is not metabolized to phenylalanine, and

A few popular alternatives to table sugar include sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin. Despite controversy over potential health risks related to their consumption, each of these products has undergone a decade or more of scientific testing and is generally recognized as safe. [Octane Photographic. Reproduced by permission.]

A few popular alternatives to table sugar include sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin. Despite controversy over potential health risks related to their consumption, each of these products has undergone a decade or more of scientific testing and is generally recognized as safe. [Octane Photographic. Reproduced by permission.]

no special PKU labeling is required. The FDA reviewed more than 113 human and animal studies before ruling on neotame.

Saccharin was discovered in 1879 and approved for use in the United States in 1879. Its trade name is Sweet'n Low. Three hundred to five hundred times sweeter than table sugar, saccharin provides no energy, as it is not metabolized by human beings. It has a bitter and somewhat metallic aftertaste. The largest population study to date, involving nine thousand individuals, showed that saccharin does not increase the risk of cancer, and on December 15, 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to remove the warning label that had been required on foods and beverages containing saccharin since 1977 (warning labels were required because of findings that saccharin caused bladder tumors in mice when they were given high doses of the sweetener). Saccharin is approved in more than one hundred countries around the world and has been reviewed and determined safe by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization and the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union.

Sucralose was discovered in 1976 and approved for use in the United States in 1988. Its trade name is Splenda. Six hundred times sweeter than sugar, sucralose is not absorbed from the digestive tract, so it adds no calories to consumed food. It is made from rearranged sugar molecules that substitute three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. Sucralose has been tested in more than one hundred studies.

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