Diabetes Self-Management Blog

On May 19, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the high-intensity sweetener advantame, developed by Japanese food and chemical corporation Ajinomoto. It is the sixth artificial sweetener to receive the green light from the agency, joining saccharin (brand name Sweet’N Low and others), aspartame (Equal and others), acesulfame potassium (Sweet One and others), sucralose (Splenda), and neotame (Newtame).

The first new sugar substitute to receive approval in 12 years, advantame is a white powder derived from aspartame and vanillin that dissolves in water and remains stable even at high temperatures. It can be used as both a tabletop sweetener and an ingredient in cooking, and it is approved for use in a variety of foods, including baked goods, nonalcoholic beverages, chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings, and syrups.

According to Captain Andrew Zajac of the US Public Health Service and director of the FDA’s Division of Petition Review, “sugar substitutes are called ‘high-intensity’ because small amounts pack a large punch when it comes to sweetness.” And unlike sweeteners such as sugar or honey, Zajac notes, high-intensity sweeteners add few or no calories to the diet and generally do not raise blood glucose levels.

The FDA based its approval of advantame on the results of 37 animal and human studies submitted by the manufacturer. The research was designed to identify any harmful effects of the sweetener, including effects on the immune, reproductive, developmental, and nervous systems.

Advantame is chemically similar to aspartame, which requires a warning label alerting people with phenylketonuria (PKU) to the presence of phenylalanine. (People with PKU have difficulty metabolizing phenylalanine.) Because of this, the FDA evaluated whether to require a warning label for advantame as well. However, the agency determined that, because advantame is about 100 times sweeter than aspartame and only a fraction of the amount is required to achieve the same degree of sweetness, no warning label for people with PKU is necessary.

Advantame is expected to hit the US market within the next few years.

For more information, see the press release or the consumer update on the FDA Web site.

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Comments
  1. This doesn’t make me happy…at all.

    Posted by Terri |
  2. Me either..they approved something that contains aspertame????

    I’m going to try Stevia or monk fruit sweetener. I have agave nectar but use it sparingly as it is like honey.

    Posted by Pat Carleson |
  3. Why would you get our hopes up with such wonderful news only to tell us it will be available in the US in the next few years. I’ll probably be deceased by that time.
    Aggravated.

    Posted by Darlene Blacketer |
  4. Another CHEMICAL sweetener to kill us!!!

    Posted by Geri |
  5. Why do they keep okaying these chemical products that destroy your liver but don’t tell you that part? Anything chemically engineered is hard on the liver and kidneys. Do not use this product!! aspartame is a poison and very harmful to the body!

    Posted by Carla |
  6. I am not happy either, there are reports of aspartame having issues about alzeheimers diease and that is a problem for me because my father had alzemeimers diease and everything I want to buy to drink has aspartame in it and I will not buy it . Please come up with something that does not interfer with our brains, that is if it is possible. Thank you . God bless and hope to come up with a new and protected item for diabetics.

    Posted by Jeanie |
  7. Note that “the FDA BASED ITS APPROVAL…on studies made by the MANUFACTURER”. What about independent studies? Also, why do we need yet another questionable artificial sweetener? Another trap to avoid I’m afraid…

    Posted by Mary G |
  8. The minute I see “artificial” I lose interest. Stevia has been my “go to” sweetener for several years now. I have never had a problem.

    Posted by Sharon |
  9. How to throw the consumer to the wolves. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and waddles like a duck, its a duck. The AMOUNT of “aspertame” used does not make it any less horrendous.

    Personally, I like breathing better. I don’t trust this stuff. And I think that it is criminal that the FDA can decided that something is “safe” because people will use less of it.

    None of the “sweeteners” listed above are really safe. They are all chemically composed, or, in the case of Splenda, chemically treated. As I understand it, Spenda is made by bombarding sugar with chlorine. How healthy!

    If I had anyone in my family with PKU I”D steer clear of this stuff.

    Posted by Susan Ahearn |
  10. Wonder how much the company paid to the FDA…

    Posted by Not Happy |
  11. I am not sure what the hoopla with chemical sweeteners about. I have doctor friends from any specialty that you can think of and every each of them is telling me the same thing about aspartame and saccharine: yes it causes cancer if you inject a highly concentrated solution of this substance under the skin of a rat and the animal develops a skin cancer. And I can understand that. But if you are using these sweeteners sparingly, like myself (I am a big Splenda user and I consume about a whopping 10 packets a day, give or take) and have a strong belief that, the body can adjust itself to fight with any foreign substance taken in moderation. Otherwise, we would have all been dead from all sorts of antibiotics and what not that was given to us throughout our lives.

    And to the Stevia fans: I wanted to like this crap and tried and tried time over time but I can not get over the bitter aftertaste of the stuff and you need to use a lot, but lots of it to get the same effect as Splenda I am using to reach the same sweetness levels and it is making the aftertaste something that I can taste through out my whole drinking the liquid which is unbearably bad.

    Monk fruit on the other hand (nectrese brand I tried) doesn’t have the aftertaste problem but again too weak to sweeten any liquid I enjoy consuming.

    I wish FDA could hurry up and let the new substance hit the market quicker than the “few years”

    Posted by Mel |
  12. Why does the FDA keep approving “artificial” sweeteners and not approve natural sweeteners like Stevia for use in manufactured foods like soft drinks? The explanation I’ve heard is that the chemical companies have bribed the FDA because they are afraid if Stevia were approved they would lose huge profits. Frankly, I believe it, because I use Stevia in cooking and it is wonderful. Obviously, the FDA is less concerned about diabetics and those on diets than they are about maintaining the huge profits of chemical companies.

    Posted by Wayne Astin |
  13. I am glad to see that others are aware of how dangerous and unnecessary these chemical sweeteners are! I have used Stevia for several years now, and prefer it above all other “natural” sweeteners. However, be aware that some companies are altering the Stevia with Erythritol, which is often “fed” with GMO corn!!!! Or with Malitol or Xylitol.

    There are sites on the web where you can purchase PURE Stevia in bulk, which lasts for a long time! Just be sure to check that what you buy is pure, with NO additives and bleaching agents used.

    I am also overjoyed to find 2 companies who now make Stevia-sweetened chocolate bars and chocolate cooking products (Lilly’s Sweets and Coco Polo). Both are available on the web, although I find them at my local Food Cooperative as well.

    I am disappointed that Zevia and Blue Sky Free both continue to use GMO-fed Erythritol in their soda. I am boycotting both until they change this.

    Posted by Jessica David |
  14. I have used spenda since I found out I was diabetic it works great in hot and cold and like sugar how about that is it an approved sugar sub.??

    Posted by joyce hicks |
  15. I do not use much sweetener. But when I do use one,my go to sweetener for many years has been and will continue to be Stevia. A natural product and I often use less than a packag, depending on what I am sweetening, There is no flavor from it other than sweetening whatever I use it on. Doesn’t matter to me what “new” sweeteners come to the market; unless it is natural I’ll stick with Stevia. If a new product comes out that is natural, I MIGHT give it a try.

    Posted by Patricia |
  16. Wake up people. The FDA does not work for the welfare of the public. Look at the rise in contaminated meat and was recalled And lets not forget about drugs that were approved, and then were pulled, after they effected people’s health. Also, GMO foods that the FDA says are safe because the chemical manufacturer made their own study to say that they are safe. But there are European countries studies that show that they are carcinogenic. And they are banned in those European countries. If you want to live a healthy life, then stop eating contaminated meat and vegetables. Support our local farmers by going organic. Peace be on to you.

    Posted by Norman |
  17. My diabetes was diagnosed in January, 1961. For years we used saccharine tablets. I will not try advantane, Aspartame-based sweetener.
    My sweetener choice is raw honey since I can take 0.4 units insulin by pump/teaspoon honey. I don’t use often. Some studies I read about years ago showed cinnamon & raw honey actually helps diabetes.
    Stevia does have an aftertaste, but I use it in lemonade.
    Jeanie and others: a soft drink called Diet Rite uses something other than “equal”, saccharine, I think.
    52 years on insulin and I’m in relatively good health. I, personally, do not pass out from hypoglycemic reactions until BS lower than 28, so I’m luckier than most. My eyes had microscopic changes in retina three weeks ago. Hope this will encourage some of you!

    Posted by Barbara |

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