The UK government is looking to set up a food analysis system, which would test for the levels of sweeteners found in certain products to ensure their safe use.
The nation’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is the process of being restructured to focus exclusively on food safety, is commissioning a project to develop an analytical method for the detection of sweeteners in food, including saccharin, aspartame and sucralose.
Due to be used for “routine analysis” of sweetener levels in food to ensure their use is safe, the FSA said the move is part of its efforts to support consumer protection on food additives.
From aspartame to stevia
“Intense sweeteners are often used in combination in foodstuffs. Therefore a method to simultaneously extract and determine the currently permitted intense sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame K, NHDC and sucralose) and if possible cyclamic acid should be developed,” said FSA.
“The method should also cover the newly permitted sweetener, neotame and be capable of determining stevia extracts, such as stevioside and rebaudioside A.”
In order to develop the analytical system, FSA is calling for research proposals for a fully validated method for the “simultaneous determination” of sweeteners in food.
“The Agency requires proposals are required to develop a robust and generally applicable method of analysis and to fully validate the method by collaborative trial. The developed method of analysis should be suitable for routine use in general analytical laboratories and be applicable for a wide range of food matrices,” it said.
UK public analyst laboratories should be consulted to determine which detection equipment they possess and what sweeteners they can currently analyse to ensure the developed method is suitable for use in public analyst laboratories, said FSA.
It added that the method should be validated following the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) guidelines for single laboratory validation and a collaborative trial should also be conducted.
Identification of additives in food
Analytical methods to identify and quantify additives in food are key to the agency’s efforts to enforce legislation and protect consumers, said FSA.
“Food surveillance is integral to improving understanding of additive exposure through collation of information on additive levels and usage.”
“This information is needed to monitor additive levels in foods, changes in dietary behaviour and patterns of additive use, and to fulfil European Community legislation requirements for Member States to monitor food intakes to ensure additive use is safe, i.e. intakes are below acceptable daily intakes (ADIs).”