Bakers hoping to extend the use of high-intensity sweeteners into new food categories have been told they must wait until 2012 before the issue is back on the agenda in Brussels.
Currently, intense sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose (which are widely used in soft drinks) are only allowed in confectionery with no added sugar or in fine bakery products for special nutritional uses.
This has proved particularly frustrating for manufacturers wanting to use them in combination with sugar and bulk sweeteners when reformulating other types of bakery and confectionery products.
Bakery and confectionery trade association Caobisco had hoped an independent report it supplied to the European Commission would provide the data to support extending the use of the sweeteners to more product categories via an amendment of the European sweeteners directive.
However, a spokeswoman said: "It was discussed at the Commission and by Member States but they felt that they needed more time to look at the impact of our request. So it will be reconsidered by the Commission in 2012."
The Food and Drink Federation said an extension was urgently required: "This would provide manufacturers with more flexibility when it comes to reformulation of products and would be in line with the increasing pressure on manufacturers to reduce sugar and calories."