Less sugar, same sweetness

by Jeff Gelski
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Reducing the amount of sweeteners in a product may lead to reducing the number of calories, a potential, promotable health benefit. Keeping the same amount of sweetness in the product, even though it has a lower amount of sweeteners, becomes the challenge.

Ingredients on the market may solve the challenge by enhancing the sweetness of sweeteners. More ingredients may be on the way, too.

Kent Snyder, chairman and chief executive officer of San Diego-based Senomyx, spoke about such enhancers in a May 24 presentation at the Citi Global Consumer Conference in New York. Senomyx has two sweetness enhancers that have Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for use as ingredients in foods and beverages.

One ingredient, S6973, en-hances sucrose, or sugar. It has been shown to reduce the amount of added sucrose in a product by up to 50% while keeping in the sweet taste found at 100%.

“So the idea here is if you can reduce the amount of sugar in a product, you can decrease the calories and improve that nutritional profile,” Mr. Snyder said. “It also results in potential cost-savings by lowering the amount of sugar that is needed to go into a product as well.”

Senomyx has collaborated with Firmenich on sweetness enhancers. Firmenich is mar-keting S6973 to food and bev-erage customers in North America, Latin America, South-east Asia, Africa and Australia, Mr. Snyder said. Firmenich is targeting categories such as dairy products, powdered ready-to-drink beverages, baked foods, cereal, biscuits and powdered and ready-to-drink coffee and tea products.

The other GRAS-approved sweetness enhancer, S2383, enhances sucralose, a high-intensity sweetener.
Senomyx also has a second-generation sucrose enhancer, S9632, and is working toward getting a GRAS approval for it. Other research is focusing on creating a sweetness enhancer for high-fructose corn syrup.
Naturex, Avignon, France, has experience in sweetness enhancing through its Talin (thaumatin) ingredient. It is a protein that has an ability to enhance and modify flavors, improve mouthfeel and provide natural sweetness to foods and beverages, according to the company.

At the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and exposition June 26-28 in Las Vegas, Naturex, which has a U.S. office in South Hackensack, N.J., planned to offer samples of a grape-raspberry drink with Talin. It also may be used in applications that include stevia extracts to modify a flavor.

Mane, based in France, has a Sense Capture program that includes an ingredient to enhance the sweetness perception of stevia extracts as well as reduce off-notes such as bitterness, a licorice-like aftertaste, astringency and lingering effect.

The sugar and caloric content of foods has made the news this year. Added sugars in processed and prepared foods made up about 16% of children’s total calorie intake, according to a report published on-line Feb. 29 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Total intake of discretionary calories, which includes added sugars and solid fats, should be 5% to 15% of total daily caloric intake, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

The C.D.C. report used figures from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-08. Boys daily consumed an average of 362 kilocalories of added sugars, or 16.3% of their total calories, according to the report. Girls daily consumed 282 kilocalories of added sugars, or 15.5% of their total calories.

The C.D.C. said added sugars include all sugars used as ingredients in processed and prepared foods such as bread, cakes, soft drinks, jams, chocolates, ice cream and sugars eaten separately or added to foods at the table. Examples of added sugar include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin.

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