sweetener, artificial

sweetener, artificial

sweetener, artificial, substance used as a low-calorie sugar substitute. Saccharin, cyclamates, and aspartame have been the most commonly used artificial sweeteners. Saccharin, a coal-tar derivative three hundred times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1879. Cyclamates were approved for consumer use in 1951; they are 30 times sweet as sugar and, unlike saccharin. have no bitter aftertaste at high concentration. They were banned in 1969 because of suspected carcinogenic properties. Aspartame, an amino-acid compound that is about 160 times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1965 and is a widely used low-calorie sweetener. It cannot be used in cooking because it is destroyed on boiling in water. People who are sensitive to the amino acid phenylalanine should not use aspartame. Neotame, an aspartame analog, is 30 to 60 times sweeter than aspartame, more stable at high temperatures, and far less likely to pose a risk to people sensitive to phenylalanine. Sucralose, which is manufactured by adding chlorine to sugar, is not destroyed by heat and is widely used as a sweetener in packaged foods that have been baked or otherwise heated during their processing. About 600 times sweeter than sugar, it was first synthesized in 1976. Stevioside, which is 300 times as sweet as sucrose, is a terpene derivative and is available in several countries.
EQUAL is a brand of artificial sweetener containing aspartame, dextrose and maltodextrin. It is marketed as a tabletop sweetener by Merisant, a global corporation which also owns the well-known NutraSweet brand and which has headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, Switzerland, Mexico, and Australia. In French Canada, EQUAL is known as ÉGAL.

In the early 1980s, Equal and its European counterpart, Canderel, were the first aspartame-based sweeteners to be sold to the public. Up to that point, there was only one artificial table sweetener available, which was saccharin.

Equal is sold variously as a bottled powder ("Equal Spoonful"), in blue individual-serve sachets or packets, and as a dissolving tablet for use in beverages such as tea and coffee. An Equal sachet contains dextrose, aspartame (1.7%), acesulfame potassium (1.2%), starch, silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent), maltodextrin, and unspecified flavouring. (Source: Equal sachet made in Argentina for sale by Merisant Australia Pty Ltd, January 2007). Equal tablets may also contain lactose.

Despite ongoing controversy as to whether aspartame is safe or harmful, aspartame-based products have gained regulatory approvals permitting sale in more than 100 countries. Merisant's NutraSweet company states that aspartame is now used in over 5,000 products and consumed by some 250 million people worldwide. These include The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsico.

Merisant and McNeil Nutritionals are involved in a protracted legal battle over marketing for Splenda. See the sucralose article for details.

Aspartame-containing products made by NutraSweet / Merisant

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