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Monday, September 24, 2007

FDA Approves New Sugar Substitute

Isomaltulose doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. What about something more palatable? Palatinose, perhaps. Would you put that in your products?

Perhaps you should. Isomaltulose, which is being produced under the trade name of Palatinose by German manufacturer Palatinit, is a combination of glucose and fructose. Normally you know a combination of glucose and fructose as sucrose, or common table sugar. Give it a slight enzymatic twist and it develops properties that are particularly desirable.

An article by Clarisse Douaud on gave details on what some of those properties are.

[T]he sweetener is said to maintain sweetness while also having a low glycemic effect. It can be used to enhance the nutritional value of foods since it is digested much more slowly than sucrose, providing energy over a longer time period.

And the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a non-cariogenic health claim for isomaltulose. Non-cariogenic means that it does not promote caries, or tooth decay, because the oral bacteria that digest other sugars like sucrose, lactose, and fructose can't break down isomaltulose's unique molecular form.

This has potentially huge applications in the commercial world.
According to Palatinit, the approval of isomaltulose as a non-cariogenic sweetener could lead to new opportunities for product development and specific dental health claims, such as "does not promote tooth decay" or "may reduce the risk of dental caries".

Palatinose is produced from real sugar, but its strong molecular binding ensures it cannot be broken down by plaque bacteria and prevents the generation of acids that harm tooth enamel. As such, dental caries do not form with Palatinose.

The sweetener was originally developed as a means to help manage diabetes as part of a low-glycemic diet. Palatinit claims its sweetener is the only low-glycaemic carbohydrate that supplies energy in the form of glucose over a prolonged period of time. However, it also has advantages for beverage applications.

Palatinit says that Palatinose is non-hygroscopic, making it ideal in instant drinks as it does not lump and remains dispersible. In dairy products, too, it can be used as a carbohydrate because it is resistant to fermentation by the surrounding microbes and lactobacilli.

Palatinose is also applicable in weight control and 'slimming' products. Liquid meal replacements with milk, fruit or cereal as well as instant tea and specialty coffee could also be repositioned in the wellness sector with Palatinose.

If the sweetener can replace lactose in commercial products, then it would be a boon to the many groups who have to avoid lactose.

This will undoubtedly take a while, as lactose is a cheap sugar easily refined from what would other be the waste product from cheese manufacturing and isomaltulose will be expensive at first, but any good alternative sweetener is bound to cut into the market for lactose in the long run.

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