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The term artificial sweetener or simply sweetener is a generic term for synthetic and natural compounds with an intensive sweet taste. Their sweetening power may reach up to 500 times of that of sugar or saccharose. All artificial sweeteners are food additives, and - in contrast to sugar or sugar substitutes - have no or very little food energy. They leave the body almost unchanged.


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Use of artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners do not contain glucose. They may therefore be used by diabetics for desserts and drinks as an alternative to sugar. Sweeteners are also used as a sugar substitute in diets aiming to reduce weight. They are sold as tablets, powdered sweetener or liquid sweetener. In food industry they are mainly used to sweeten diabetes foods and diet or light products. Depending on the desired taste different sweeteners and sugar substitutes are often combined. Where sweeteners are used in the industrial production of foods this has to be stated on the label.


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Properties of sweeteners


Sweeteners may be stored for a long time without losing their sweetening power. An exception to this is Aspartame. Almost all sweeteners are also heat resistant - here Aspartame and Thaumatin being the exceptions. Most sweeteners have a specific by- or aftertaste. Because of that their use is somewhat limited.


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Labelling of artificial sweeteners

The use of sweeteners is not only limited by their taste, in many countries they have to be approved and underlie maximum amounts. Sweeteners usually have to be stated in the list of ingredients.


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Artificial sweeteners and health aspects

According to different medical studies sweeteners do not have negative effects on health. In the past they were said to promote cancer and intensify the appetite for sweets. Newer studies were not able to prove these fears. In contrast to sugar sweeteners do not promote caries.


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Approved Sweeteners:

  • Acesulfame potassium, Acesulfame K, E 950
  • Aspartame, E 951
  • Salt of Aspartame-Acesulfame, E 962
  • Cyclamate, E 952
  • Saccharin, E 954
  • Sucralose, E 955
  • Thaumatin, E 957
  • Neohesperidin DC, Neohesperidin, E 959

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