Pressure mounts to allow the use of high intensity sweeteners in breakfast cereals

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags High intensity sweeteners Sucralose Tate & lyle

Pressure mounts to allow the use of high intensity sweeteners in breakfast cereals
High-intensity sweetener suppliers are working with the bakery industry in an effort to change the rules preventing the use of such artificial...

High-intensity sweetener suppliers are working with the bakery industry in an effort to change the rules preventing the use of such artificial ingredients in breakfast cereals and other general bakery products.

With concern rising about the growth in obesity, some in the sector believe the time is now ripe to get a change the law on the use of such sweeteners in cereals and other bakery products.

Tate & Lyle, which produces sucralose under the name Splenda, is known to be working with unnamed cereal processors to bring about a change in the law. Together with some of its customers in the cereals sector, Tate & Lyle’s global vice president for applications and technical service Mike Augustine said he believed there was an opportunity to reduce carbohydrate levels in these products.

“We are talking to people who are interested in changing the regulations,” he said, although he would not disclose which companies were involved.

The use of high intensity sweeteners, such as acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, is currently restricted to fine bakery products intended for special nutritional uses. This covers dietary bakery products that contain bulking agents (sugar replacement) and/or fructose and intense sweeteners. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), this limited food category is in place to ensure the acceptable daily intakes for these sweeteners are not exceeded.

Some within the industry also suggest the rules are there because of fears that manufacturers might be tempted to flavour foods with very little or no nutritional value. Regulators, one source starkly warned, are concerned that manufacturers “might make sawdust tasty”

In a statement the FSA said amendments to the categories in which sweeteners are permitted would need to be negotiated at European Union level. “It is unlikely that any changes to the legislation to permit intense sweeteners to be used in all fine bakery wares would be acceptable without evidence that the widening of the category would not lead to consumers exceeding the acceptable daily intake levels for these sweeteners,” it said.

Today Tate & Lyle also announced that it had signed agreements to acquire US speciality food ingredients company Continental Custom Ingredients (CCI) for £40m and the Italian based Cesalpinia group of companies for £34m. The deals are expected to be completed by the first quarter of the 2006.

CCI supplies dairy stabilisers and emulsifier systems and also has expertise in beverage flavours, plus vitamin and mineral fortification. Cesalpinia is a producer of natural flavours and has diversified into manufacturing and marketing natural gums and stabilisers.

“These bolt-on acquisitions are an excellent fit with Tate & Lyle’s stated growth strategy,” said Tate & Lyle’s chief executive Iain Ferguson. “They represent a further step in broadening our product mix, technology and customer base in rapidly expanding areas such as blends and fortification.”