Discovered in 1967 by Hoechst AG, acesulfame potassium (also known as acesulfame K) is a high-intensity, non-caloric sweetener. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Acesulfame K has a clean, quickly perceptible, sweet taste that does not linger or leave an aftertaste. Acesulfame K is not metabolized by the body and is excreted unchanged. It is sold under the brand name Sunett™ by Nutrinova, Inc., a business of Celanese AG.
Acesulfame K is currently used in thousands of foods, beverages, oral hygiene and pharmaceutical products in about 90 countries. Among these are tabletop sweeteners, desserts, puddings, baked goods, soft drinks, candies and canned foods.
In the United States, acesulfame K was granted general purpose approval in December, 2003. It is approved for use in numerous products including chewing gum, dry beverage mixes, dry dessert mixes, dry dairy analog bases, tabletop sweeteners, confections, soft candy, hard candy (including breath mints, cough drops and lozenges), baked goods, dairy products, carbonated beverages and alcoholic beverages.
More than 90 studies have demonstrated the safety of acesulfame K. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration permitted the use of acesulfame K after evaluating numerous studies and determining it is safe for its intended use.
The FDA approved acesulfame K for use in liquid non-alcoholic beverages (soft drinks) on July 6, 1998. FDA has reaffirmed acesulfame K’s safety on nine separate occasions by broadening its approval. A general use approval was granted by the FDA in December of 2003.
The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the scientific advisory body to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reviewed the available research on acesulfame K and concluded that it is safe. JECFA has also established an ADI of 15 mg/kg of body weight.
The Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union published a comprehensive assessment of sweetening agents in 1985. This committee of toxicological experts from the EU member countries accepted acesulfame K for use in foods and beverages. Acesulfame K has been used in Europe since 1983, and in the U.S. since 1988, with no known documented adverse health effects.
Americans continually are searching for good-tasting, low-calorie products to consume as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Recent surveys continue to show that calorie-conscious consumers want additional low-calorie foods and beverages.
The development and approval of a variety of safe low-calorie sweeteners, fat substitutes and other low-calorie ingredients is helping to meet this demand. The availability of several low-calorie ingredients allows food manufacturers to choose the most appropriate ingredient, or combination of ingredients, for a given product. When acesulfame K is combined with other low-calorie sweeteners, they enhance each other so that the combinations are sweeter than the sum of the individual sweeteners with significantly improved taste profiles.
Testing of acesulfame K has shown good performance in juices, fruit preparations and dairy products. It is also an excellent sweetener for use in baked goods, a market which has great potential for low-calorie sweeteners, and is well suited for use in toothpaste, mouthwashes and pharmaceuticals.
Acesulfame K’s good taste, stability and solubility make it suitable for numerous products. The availability of a variety of low-calorie sweeteners will expand the market to provide products with improved taste, increased stability, lower manufacturing costs, and, ultimately, more choices for the consumer.
More information is available at www.acesulfamek.org.
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