Erythritol, is a natural*, zero-calorie bulk sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar. Classified as a polyol (sugar alcohol), it is currently used as a bulk sweetener in reduced calorie foods and beverages promoting sugar reduction and/or weight management. It occurs naturally in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes, as well as foods such as mushrooms and fermentation-derived foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese. Since 1990, erythritol has been commercially made via fermentation and added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness, as well as enhance their taste and texture. Erythritol is available in the U.S. and globally.
Erythritol is a white crystalline powder with a clean sweet taste that is similar to sucrose. Erythritol’s caloric value of zero calories per gram and high digestive tolerance distinguishes it from other polyols. It is approximately 70% as sweet as sucrose and flows easily due to its non-hygroscopic character. In addition, because erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly eliminated by the body within 24 hours, laxative side effects sometimes associated with excessive polyol consumption are unlikely when consuming erythritol containing foods.
Like other polyols, erythritol does not promote tooth decay and is safe for people with diabetes. This ingredient is often used in products promoting dental health, such as toothpaste and sugar-free candy. This ingredient has been clinically proven to achieve less dental plaque, oral bacteria and tooth decay while also addressing dry mouth symptoms. Also, erythritol does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels.
The safety of erythritol as a food ingredient under conditions of its intended use is substantiated by a number of human and animal safety studies, including short- and long-term feeding, multi-generation reproduction and teratology studies as referenced by Munro et. al 1998. Since 1999, it has been given the highest safety rating possible by the World Health Organization and Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives.
Erythritol has been used in Japan since 1990 in candies, chocolates, soft drinks, chewing gums, yogurts, fillings, cookie coatings, jellies, jams and sugar substitutes. Petitions have been submitted to additional governmental agencies throughout the world to expand the use of erythritol. It has been approved for use in foods in more than 50 countries, including Canada, US, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and the European Union.
Erythritol blends well with other polyols, high intensity sweeteners and flavors and can mask off-flavors such as bitterness sometimes associated with other low-calorie sweeteners. Erythritol is synergistic with low-calorie sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame potassium, resulting in a combination which is sweeter than the sum of the individual components and an improved taste profile with superior taste, economic and stability advantages.