FDA Approves New Artificial Sweetener

A watchdog group points to a concerning study, questioning the safety of the new artificial sweetener.

May 21, 2014
fda approves new artificial sweetener

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new artificial sweetener this week, saying the high-intensity sweetener Advantame is safe for use as a general-purpose sweeter and flavor enhancer.

The new food additive would be allowed for use as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer in things like baked goods, soda and other non-alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, sweets, puddings, jams and jellies, fruit juice, and other things. It is not allowed in meat or poultry, though.

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This is the sixth sweetener approved by FDA, and one the agency says will serve as a low-calorie sugar replacement that won't raise blood sugar levels. FDA says it reviewed 37 animal and human studies before concluding it's safe for people to eat.

Still, with the sketchy history of many other artificial sweeteners, there are critics.

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) vowed to carefully review studies on Advantame, but said the initial concern is that it appeared to cause premature death in mice. "The number of mice that survived to the end of the study was below FDA's own scientific recommendations, and is therefore inadequate to provide confidence in the safety of a chemical likely to be consumed by millions of people," the public health watchdog group said in a statement.

Other sugar experts aren't jumping on the artificial bandwagon, either. "Although the FDA has approved Advantame, I'd rather avoid these 'high-intensity sweeteners' and simply enjoy eating small amounts of natural sugars, such as those found in whole fruit or adding natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, even table sugar to your food," says Anne Alexander, editorial director of Prevention magazine and author of The Sugar Smart Diet. "Why fake it? Just enjoy the real thing as a treat."

For reasons to be wary, read 7 Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Tags: sugar