Erythritol is naturally occurring in some fruits and other foods, but for industrial production it is usually produced by putting a source of glucose through a fermentation process using moniliella pollinis yeast. This yeast is then filtered out before use. The most common source of this glucose is corn.
Erythritol was discovered as a naturally occurring molecule by chemist John Stenhouse in 1848 and has since been declared safe for use as a food additive in the United States by the FDA in 2001. Regular use of erythritol may result in a few detrimental side effects, including nausea if ingested in large quantities or possibly hives if the consumer is allergic to it.
Erythritol can be commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum, hard candies, baked goods and beverages. Practically non-caloric and yet 60 to 80 percent as sweet as sugar, it has little or no effect on blood glucose or insulin. Some clinical studies have shown that erythritol is therefore suitable for consumption by diabetics.
Erythritol does not promote tooth decay due to its inability to be metabolized by oral bacteria. It is also difficult for intestinal bacteria to absorb, making it less likely to cause bloating or gas than some other sugar alcohol-based sweeteners.