The term sweeteners covers synthetic and natural compounds that have an intensive sweet taste. Their sweetening power is up to 500 times that of table sugar. All sweeteners are food additives which, unlike sugar, have no or hardly any nutritious value. They are eliminated by the body almost unprocessed.

At ifp Institut für Produktqualität sweeteners are determined by means of HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography).

Approval and labelling of sweeteners in the EU

In the food industry, sweeteners are also used as an alternative to sugar in diet food, since they contain no glucose. They are also used as a sugar replacement in weight-loss food, so-called "light” products. In order to achieve certain flavours, different sweeteners and sugar substitutes are frequently mixed with each other. The use of sweeteners in foodstuffs is subject to statutory maximum levels and must be labelled accordingly.

According to Annex III of the EC Regulation on Provision of Food Information, foods that contain one or more approved sweeteners must be labelled with the note “contains sweetener(s)”. The same Annex contains further specifications that need to be displayed to the consumer when using certain sweeteners/categories of sweeteners.

The new Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 on additives has been in effect since June 1, 2103. Annex II Part B No. 2 lists all sweetening agents (sweeteners, sugar substitutes) that may be used, depending on the food category. Currently the following substances are approved:

  • E 420 - sorbitol
  • E 421 - mannitol
  • E 950 - acesulfame K
  • E 951 - aspartame
  • E 952 - cyclamate
  • E 953 - isomalt
  • E 954 - saccharin
  • E 955 - sucralose
  • E 957 - thaumatin
  • E 959 - neohesperidine DC
  • E 960 - steviol glycoside
  • E 961 - neotame
  • E 962 - aspartame-acesulfame salt
  • E 964 - polyglycitol syrup
  • E 965 - maltitol
  • E 966 - lactitol
  • E 967 - xylitol
  • E 968 - erythritol