standard of sweeteners." Often imitated, never duplicated!
What is sugar?
Food and Drug Administration regulations restrict how food manufacturers can use the
term “sugar” in any ingredient statement. Whenever the word “sugar” appears in a list of
ingredients, it is limited to only sucrose obtained from sugar cane or sugar beets. This
means that there is absolutely no difference between sugar from sugar beets and sugar
from sugar cane.
Historically, honey and maple syrup have been used to replace sugar.
Pure cornstarch is by far the biggest source of the other carbohydrate sweeteners used
by today’s food manufacturers. Cornstarch is split into a variety of smaller fragments
(called dextrin) with acid or enzymes. The smaller fragments are then converted into the
various cornstarch sweeteners used by today’s food manufacturers.
Hydrolysis is the term used to describe the overall process where starch is converted
into various sweeteners.
Sweetener products made by cornstarch hydrolysis include dextrose, corn syrup, corn
syrup solids, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, and crystalline fructose.
A juice concentrate is the syrup produced after water, fiber and nutrients are removed
from the original fruit juice.
A newer class of alternative carbohydrate sweeteners is the sugar alcohols. While sugar
alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols, they are so-named because they are
manufactured from traditional carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols bear a close resemblance
to the sugars from which their names are derived.
Sugar-and carbohydrates in general are converted to blood glucose, the fundamental
fuel needed by the brain.
Sugar provides only energy for the body. Therefore, foods that contain relatively
large amounts of sugar generally have low nutrient density.
Sweeteners may be classified into two groups: nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive
sweeteners. Nonnutritive sweeteners (alternative sweeteners) are often called high-
intensity sweeteners. Alternative sweeteners currently approved for use in the United
State include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, and neotame.
Cyclamates are currently not approved for use in the United States. A petition for
reapproval of this alternative sweetener has been filed with the FDA. No one alternative
sweetener is best for every food product; therefore, sweeteners are chosen for the
applications for which they will be best suited.
High-intensity sweeteners lack the bulk needed for many food products. Sugar alcohols
(polyols) are therefore used with low calorie sweeteners to improve bulk, mouth feel,
and texture. Eight polyols (erythritol, mannitol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol,
and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates) are approved for use in the United States.
Foods sweetened with polyols may be labeled with “sugar free” or “does not promote