First chocolates released with tooth-friendly sugar

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Barry callebaut Sucrose Sugar Sugar substitute

The first chocolate products endorsed by Toothfriendly International as harmless to teeth have hit the market in Belgium, despite containing a sugar.

Barry Callebaut, which developed the chocolate, claims the secret is in replacing milk powder with milk proteins, and sucrose with isomaltulose, a naturally occurring sugar found in honey and sugar cane.

Two chocolate companies have released products made from Barry Callebaut’s new ‘tooth-friendly’ chocolate: Daskalides, in praline-filled chocolate bars, and Chocolaterie Smet, in its Hopla chocolate figurines, and other manufacturers look set to follow suit.

How it works

Although isomaltulose is composed of glucose and fructose, as is refined sugar, it reacts differently to oral bacteria, protecting teeth from decay by preventing mouth pH levels from dropping below the critical level of 5.7. Like sucrose, it is easily digested and has a similar calorific value of about four calories per gram.

The fact that it is a natural sugar, rather than a sweetener, is crucial, as polyol sweeteners such as xylitol and maltitol have been associated with a laxative effect following excessive consumption.

Spokesperson for Barry Callebaut Ann Maes told ““Sometimes kids do eat a lot of chocolate, so it is very important to say that it is not a laxative at all, which is a big, big plus. The chocolate is completely natural, with no artificial additives or sweeteners, which is important because mums don’t want to give those to their kids. And it has passed the taste test with kids.”

She said that many major confectionery manufacturers have already bought the chocolate and will be releasing their own tooth-friendly products, but she could not disclose which companies at this stage.

She said: “We have had a huge amount of interest. Functional chocolate has been really strong over the past few months.”

Happy teeth

Toothfriendly International is an independent non-profit organisation for the promotion of dental health, which bestows its ‘Happy Tooth’ logo as a seal of approval on products which it guarantees to be safe for teeth.

Director of Toothfriendly International Dr. Albert Bär said:​“All sweets that carry this logo have been scientifically tested by recognised and independent academic institutes for dental health. Their tests demonstrate that the product does not cause dental caries or tooth decay.”

While isomaltulose may not be harmful to teeth, a recent European health claim ruling on xylitol goes a step further. EFSA now allows manufacturers of chewing gum sweetened with 100 per cent xylitol to state that it actually reduces the risk of tooth decay.

A similar claim for pastilles sweetened with 56 per cent xylitol was rejected, however, after EFSA found there to be “significant weaknesses” in the presented research.

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