The artificial sweeteners sucralose and aspartame-acesulfame have been approved for sale in the European Union by the European Commission, although final ratification of the decision by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers could take a further year.
Despite the fact that a further delay is likely, the companies behind the sweeteners welcomed the EC's decision. Sucralose is produced by Tate & Lyle, the British sugar group, and is already available in some 40 countries around the world, including major markets such as Australia, Japan and the US.
Aspartame-acesulfame is made by Holland Sweetener Company, a joint venture between Dutch ingredients group DSM and the Japanese group Tosoh Corp. The company's management told Dow Jones that it expected to sell €10-20 million of the sweetener in Europe each year following approval.
Sucralose is used in desserts and soft drinks, while aspartame-acesulfame - a combination of two already permitted sweeteners, aspartame and acesulfame K - is added to chewing gum. "It provides a much longer lasting taste than present sugar free chewing gum," said Herbert Degens, Holland Sweetener's marketing manager for the product.
The EU's Scientific Committee on Food established the safety of the two sweeteners prior to the proposal being made. For sucralose, the committee set an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI, defined as the amount of a food additive that a human can ingest daily over a lifetime without incurring any appreciable health risks) of 15 mg/kg bodyweight. For the aspartame-acesulfame combination, the Committee decided that it was covered by the safety evaluations of the two constituent sweeteners.