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FDA GRAS for sucromalt will widen market appeal, says Cargill

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 23-Apr-2009

Cargill has claimed that the market for its sucromalt sweetener will widen after acheiving FDA generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status last week, and as consumers increasingly demand healthier foods.

Xtend sucromalt is a full-calorie natural sweetener syrup made from sucrose and maltose that had already been self-affirmed as GRAS by the company in 2004, according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Cargill has positioned the sweetener as a low-glycemic alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), for “consumers who desire to manage their energy and blood glucose levels.” And the company is confident that the extra layer of GRAS will extend demand.

A spokesperson for Cargill told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “The FDA’s no objection letter gives our customers added assurance that Xtend sucromalt is safe and is regulatory compliant for its intended use. It will also benefit customers who seek registrations in countries outside the U.S. by providing evidence that the safety of sucromalt has already been evaluated.”

Natural trend

Cargill hopes that the sweetener will tie in with the surge of companies looking to reformulate with natural sweeteners – including sugar – for two reasons: its low-glycemic index; and the way it is required to be listed on ingredient labels.

Cargill claims that only half of the calories from sucromalt need to be listed on nutritional labels as sugar, raising its appeal for manufacturers that want to achieve healthier formulations through sugar reduction.

Because it is a syrup, Cargill also said that its sucromalt would appeal to manufacturers that are familiar with HFCS, which has suffered from a mass of bad publicity recently, leading many companies to consider cutting the sweetener.

Campaigners against HFCS point to epidemiological studies that have linked the consumption of sweetened beverages and obesity, as well as some science that claims that the body processes the syrup differently from other sugars due to the fructose content, leading to greater fat storage.

However, industry associations like the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) have repeatedly claimed there is no scientific evidence to suggest that HFCS is uniquely responsible for people becoming obese.

“Sucromalt also offers food and beverage manufacturers the functional and handling characteristics they have become familiar with in other syrup based sweeteners such as corn syrups,” said Cargill.

Its Xtend-brand sucromalt has been developed for use in yogurts, beverages, cereals and bars and has been sold since 2006.

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