Artificial Sweeteners - Experience

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What is the difference between nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners?

The safety of our food and what goes in it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you read the ingredients on your food labels you, will notice things that are not from your basic food groups. Foods from the food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, and oils) are considered nutritive because they provide nourishment. Products that are added and do not provide any nourishment can be considered nonnutritive.

We like to believe that nothing would be allowed in our food that wasn't considered 100% safe. Unfortunately, this kind of guarantee is not usually possible. In the United States, sweeteners fall under the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list or as food additives under the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to the FDA, "Regardless of whether the use of a substance is a food additive use or is GRAS, there must be evidence that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use. FDA has defined "safe" as a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under its intended conditions of use. The specific data and information that demonstrate safety depend on the characteristics of the substance, the estimated dietary intake, and the population that will consume the substance."

The guidelines about what constitutes a sweetener to be on the GRAS list versus being listed as a food additive are as follows:

  • For a GRAS substance, generally available data and information about the use of the substance are known and accepted widely by qualified experts, and there is a basis to conclude that there is consensus among qualified experts that those data and information establish that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use.

  • For a food additive, privately held data and information about the use of the substance are sent by the sponsor to FDA and FDA evaluates those data and information to determine whether they establish that the substance is safe under the conditions of its.

Throughout the remainder of this article, you will learn about the positive and negative sides of the story behind each of the FDA-approved nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners.

Return to Artificial Sweeteners

See what others are saying

Comment from: DebraRN, 45-54 (Caregiver) Published: April 14

If it were not for artificial sweeteners, I would be as big as a house. What is worse, some vague connotations to health risks related to artificial sweeteners or being grossly overweight?

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Comment from: Fluff, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: March 21

When I was about 40 I was hooked on Diet Coke and drank about 5 - 6 cans a week. Plus I was having Equal in my cuppas. After about 2 years of this I started to get muscular dystrophy, pins and needles, dizziness and the shakes. I stopped having it and it took about 2 years to get my legs working again properly. I was getting twice weekly massages on my legs as well. Nothing helped. I kept tripping over and being uncoordinated. I didn't know that was causing it, but I do now. I'd given it up because it was artificial that's all. Stay away, its pure poison.

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