Neotame - The New Version of Aspartame

Is neotame just another form of aspartame? I'm afraid so. Neotame is a modified version of aspartame, containing all the same elements found in aspartame and more: the amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine, plus two organic groups, one known as a methyl ester group and the other as a neohexyl group. Joined together, these components equal 8,000 teaspoons of sugar.

At 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, neotame is the most potent sweetener marketed today. Neotame has changed hands from its original patent holder Monsanto Chemical Company, to The NutraSweet Co., to J. W. Childs
Partnership, and now to Pharmacia. Like aspartame, neotame is a very potent and questionable compound, but it does not have to carry the PKU warning, as aspartame is required by law to do, so its addition to all products goes without warning. I see this as a serious problem for those with PKU, who carry the PKU gene, and are PKU recessive.

The FDA was petitioned in 1997 to approve neotame for use as a tabletop sweetener, and neotame was FDA approved for commercial marketing on July 9, 2002 as a general-use sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods and beverages. Currently, no commercial U.S. products exist, but in October 2002 neotame was approved for public use in:

* Chewing gum
* Carbonated soft drinks
* Refrigerated and non-refrigerated ready-to-drink beverages
* Frozen desserts and novelties
* Puddings and fillings
* Yogurt-type products
* Baked goods
* Candies

A number of beverages have recently been introduced in Australia and New Zealand where neotame received its first approval in August 2001. It is also approved in the People's Republic of China, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Just Another Chemical Cocktail: As with aspartame, neotame is also a flavor enhancer. Glenn Corliss, senior food scientist for The NutraSweet Company, stated, "Studies have shown that neotame modifies flavors at nonsweetening levels and that it works well to modify the taste of soy. In addition, it works well in combination with other sweeteners. There are a number of product applications for neotame - liquids, chewing gum - where it extends sweetness and flavor. "

Demand for high-intensity, no-calorie sweeteners as food additives is projected to increase 8.2 percent a year to $89 million in 2008, according to Atlanta-based market analysts The Freedonia Group. Use of artificial sweeteners by beverage manufacturers grew to $321 million from $274 million in 2001.

Tate & Lyle PLC, the London-based creator and manufacturer of sucralose, said in December 2003 it will not take on new customer requests for the product until expansions at the plant in McIntosh, Alabama come on line in early 2006. So, the much-publicized shortage of Splenda, now found in more than 4,000 products, has boosted interest in neotame.

"That tight supply is an opportunity for other sweeteners such as neotame," stated Kantha Shelke, a food scientist and a principal at Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago food science and research firm. "I believe there is a lot of opportunity in the current non-caloric sweetener market. It's ripe for the picking."

Posted March 2005 | Permanent Link

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