sweetener, artificial

sweetener, artificial, substance used as a low-calorie sugar substitute. Saccharin, cyclamates, and aspartame have been the most commonly used artificial sweeteners. Saccharin, a coal-tar derivative three hundred times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1879. Cyclamates were approved for consumer use in 1951; they are 30 times sweet as sugar and, unlike saccharin. have no bitter aftertaste at high concentration. They were banned in 1969 because of suspected carcinogenic properties. Aspartame, an amino-acid compound that is about 160 times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1965 and is a widely used low-calorie sweetener. It cannot be used in cooking because it is destroyed on boiling in water. People who are sensitive to the amino acid phenylalanine should not use aspartame. Neotame, an aspartame analog, is 30 to 60 times sweeter than aspartame, more stable at high temperatures, and far less likely to pose a risk to people sensitive to phenylalanine. Sucralose, which is manufactured by adding chlorine to sugar, is not destroyed by heat and is widely used as a sweetener in packaged foods that have been baked or otherwise heated during their processing. About 600 times sweeter than sugar, it was first synthesized in 1976. Stevioside, which is 300 times as sweet as sucrose, is a terpene derivative and is available in several countries.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Organic Chemistry