Moving in step with the European Union, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland this week granted a temporary authorisation for the marketing and use of the sweetener sucralose.
From 1 January 2003, for a period of two years, the high-intensity sweetener can be used as an ingredient in a range of foodstuffs and as a table top sweetener.
Sucralose, known also as 4,1',6'-trichlorogalactosucrose (TGS), is a derivative of the natural sugar sucrose, although its sweetness is around 600-650 times greater. Uses include soft drinks and other beverages, sugar substitute preparations, desserts, chewing gum, baking mixes, pre-sweetened breakfast cereals and salad dressings.
The European Scientific Committee for Food recently evaluated the safety of sucralose and concluded that it is an acceptable sweetener for general food use, with an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 0-15mg/kg body weight per day.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, following an assessment of the potential intake of sucralose by the various sectors of the Irish population, concluded that intake will be well below the ADI.
According to the FSAI, in order to reach its decision to grant a temporary authorisation for the marketing and use of sucralose, the safety body sought advice from its scientific committee. The committee, in turn, agreed with the opinion of the European Scientific Committee for Food in relation to the safety of sucralose as a sweetener for general food use and supported the granting of the temporary authorisation.
In March 2002 the UK approved the use of this high-intensity sweetener in food and beverages. Sucralose is also approved for use in the US, Japan Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In July last year the European Commission paved the way for new legislation allowing the use of sucralose within the European Union. The proposal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council, which could take up to a year.
Sucralose is said to be around 600 times sweeter than sugar and stable even when exposed to high temperature food processing.