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When developing the reduced sugar varieties of Krampade® the use of artificial sweeteners was something that was necessary and, frankly, made me apprehensive as working with these compounds is tricky and often leaves me with a headache.  So where to start when developing our reduced sugar and future zero sugar (Kramplytes) varieties?

Which artificial sweeteners are FDA approved?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates what compounds can be used for making a powdered drink mix such as Krampade®.  The first step along the journey is to visit the FDA website and see what sweeteners have met their rigorous standards for approval and how much.

There are six artificial sweeteners approved for use and two natural sweeteners have been given GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status.  For more information visit https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/additional-information-about-high-intensity-sweeteners-permitted-use-food-united-states#saccharin

Sweetener Regulatory Status Example brand names Multiplier of sweetness compared to table sugar (sucrose) Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) in milligrams per kilogram body weight per day Number of tabletop sweetener packets equivalent to ADI
Advantame Approved generally (except meat and poultry) Advantame® 20,000x 32.8 4,920

 

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K) Approved generally (except meat and poultry) Sweet One®

Sunett®

200x 15 23
Aspartame Approved generally (must have PKU warning) Nutrasweet®

Equal®

Sugar Twin®

200x 50 75
Neotame Approved generally (except meat and poultry) Newtame® 10,000x 0.3 23
Saccharin Approved only in certain special dietary foods and as an additive Sweet N’ Low®

Sweet Twin®

Nectra Sweet®

400x 15 45
Sucralose Approved generally Splenda® 600x 5 23
Monk Fruit extracts (SGFE) SGFE containing 25-55% Morgroside V is subject of GRAS notices for specific conditions Nectresse®

Monk Fruit in the Raw®

PureLo®

175x Not specified Not determined
High purity steviol glycosides from Stevia leaf >95% pure glycosides subject of GRS notices for specific conditions Truvia®

PureVia®

Enliten®

300x 4 9

When using artificial sweeteners or natural extracts the list is not extensive of what is available.  So where to begin?

What is the flavor profile of artificial sweeteners?

One of the main problems with using artificial sweeteners is that many of them have undesirable aftertastes or can be quite expensive.  This is why there are often more than one utilized in your favorite diet soft drink.  This is done to mask the undesirable qualities of one with the other to create a more sugar-like experience.

So why not simply use the natural sweeteners?  The natural sweeteners suffer from the same undesirable qualities as their artificial counterparts.  A compounding problem with the natural sweeteners is they are not approved to be used in larger quantities.  This means that the actual level of sweetness that can be derived is actually quite low.

Advantame® is unique among the set as it does not have an undesirable aftertaste and is, in fact, a flavor enhancer.  This means that the flavor of the product lingers for a little while and has a clean, refreshing finish.  The downside to Advantame® is that it takes a second to be recognized by the taste buds.

What side effects are there?

The main reason I was dreading the initial formulation of reduced calorie Krampade® was that most artificial sweeteners give me a headache.  When going through the various options available, eliminating those that had adverse effects for me when consuming other products led to trying Advantame®, which I could not find readily in other products on the market.  With Advantame®, there were not any side effects when using it.  What is interesting is that Advantame® is essentially not bioavailable with an average of 89% passing through the gut in humans (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036030 for abstract).  Thus, there are no side effects and because it is so sweet, very small amounts are used.

Advantame® was used in other studies examining long-term side effects such as teratogenicity (birth defects) and mutagenicity (cancer). Even very high amounts were shown to not be either teratogenic or mutagenic in a variety of organisms, from bacteria to rats to dogs (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036027, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036026, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036028, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036025, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21782878, ).

Thus, the lack of acute adverse effects such as headache, combined with the low bioavailability and high potency, makes the use of Advantame® an ideal way to create our reduced calorie product line.  I am sure our customers would agree.

Why not use other sweeteners such as erythritol?

The sugar alcohols (erythritol, sorbitol, etc.) are much less sweet than the regular sugar we use.  Erythritol is 30% less sweet than sugar and sorbitol is 40% less sweet.  This would add significant cost and bulk to Krampade®.  Furthermore, erythritol, which is the only sugar alcohol to not contain bioavailable calories, is not very soluble and takes a long time to dissolve.  This would negatively affect one of the nice features of Krampade®, its speed of moving into solution and lack of “sludge” when dissolved.

So if Advantame® is so great, where is a zero calorie product for Krampade®?

The one downside to Advantame® is the slow speed at which the molecule interacts with the sweet receptors on the tongue.  This means that a fast acting sweetener must be used to buffer the drink while the Advantame® begins to work.  However, we recently were able to overcome this shortcoming and are launching zero calorie Kramplytes in the near future.

Conclusions:

When looking for a non-caloric sweetener Advantame® hits the mark with a clean taste, low bioavailability, and fast excretion.  The downside is a delay in sweetness starting and some high variance in interacting with flavors as the profile of Advantame® changes with the matrix, and is very pH sensitive.  This aspect as well as the extremely high potency makes working with Advantame® difficult for a formulator, but the end result is extraordinary and well worth the effort.

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