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What is acesulfame potassium?

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Quick Answer

Acesulfame potassium is high-intensity sweetener that acts as a calorie-free sugar substitute and flavor enhancer. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is used as an additive by many food manufacturers due to its taste and versatility. It is also known as acesulfame K.

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Full Answer

Acesulfame potassium is a very common additive, with over 5000 products listing it as an ingredient. It has less of an aftertaste than some other sugar substitutes and combines well with other sweeteners. It is heat stable and a good choice for use in baking. Unlike sugar, it does not cause tooth decay, and it is considered safe for people with diabetes. Other benefits include a long shelf life and an ability to dissolve quickly.

Some health experts believe that acesulfame potassium is unsafe for humans because it contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. Additionally, long term exposure to methylene chloride causes numerous health effects, such as headaches, confusion visual disturbances and liver toxicity. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, acesulfame potassium is safe for human consumption. Further, there are at least 90 studies that demonstrate its safety. As of 2015, the acceptable daily intake is 9 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

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