MINNEAPOLIS — Food and beverage product developers are in a bind as they consider sweetener options. Perception of sugar by some consumers has shifted in a negative direction as the sweetener has been associated with obesity and many of the chronic conditions associated with obesity. The trend may be seen as an opportunity for the manufacturers of high-intensity sweeteners, but that category is facing perception problems as well.
A study published in the journal Stroke in late April associated artificial sweetener consumption with the occurrence of strokes and dementia. The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine and using data gathered through the Framingham Heart Study, found that consumers who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.
Such groups as the International Food Information Council Foundation quickly responded to the research findings by noting it is based on observational findings and is not conclusive.
“Observational studies using F.F.Q.s (food frequency questionnaires) can be important first steps in building the greater body of scientific understanding, but they are just that — first steps,” IFIC said. “These types of studies cannot establish cause and effect; rather they can help inform experimental studies, such as randomized control trials — the gold standard of research design. Having both observational and experimental data leads to scientific advancements in nutrition and food science.”
Tate & Lyle patents new blend
Ingredient manufacturers have noted the shift in consumer perceptions toward some sweeteners and are working to develop new options or minimize the negative attributes associated with others. This past March, for example, Tate & Lyle P.L.C., London, added to its Dolcia Prima allulose line with a new crystalline format that allows its use in such applications as dry beverages, meal replacement mixes, fat-based creams and chocolate used in the manufacture of confectionery products.
Tate & Lyle was recently granted a patent for a new sweetener that is a blend of allulose, fructose and sucralose. The company said the ingredient is suitable as a replacement for high calorie sugars.
“The present invention is based on the surprising finding that allulose, fructose and sucralose exhibit sweetness synergy, whereby the blend is sweeter than the expected sweetness based on the sweetness of its components,” according to the patent. “That is to say, the relative sweetness of the sweetener composition is greater than the sweetness calculated from the individual components of the composition.
“Furthermore, it has been found that this blend of allulose, fructose and sucralose addresses problems associated with the individual components, in particular, with regard to off-flavor and/or undesirable temporal profile. In addition, due to the presence of the zero calorie sweeteners, allulose and sucralose, the sweetener composition is low calorie.”
The Tate & Lyle application said that as a consequence of the sweetness synergy, the amount of the ingredient required to provide a given level of sweetness is less than would be expected in the absence of synergy.