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Replacing sugar in beverages

Replacing sugar in beverages

FSANZ standards govern the use of Sweeteners in of all forms in Australia and New Zealand. Regulations are slightly different in other parts of the world and care needs to be taken on claims.

Question: Replacement of Sugar in a beverage

Sweeteners is a complex area and to remove sugar and make claims can be difficult and is dependent on the source of caffeine and required mouthfeel and taste. In the past saccharin and cyclamate were the major artificial sweeteners available and they have been joined by acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, stevia, sucralose etc. It is relatively simple to replace sugar in a drink and obtain a 25% reduction in total calories, but there may be mouthfeel effects from sugar reduction. The best results usually arise from the mixing of artificial sweeteners and there is a symbiotic effect in that many of the mixes that result in a lesser amount used and a far closer to sugar final taste. This is pH dependent, heat and packaging dependent as O2 effect, light and processing conditions can have an effect. Some of these sweeteners will degrade over time.

In other products such as biscuit or confectionery the replacement of sugar also requires the replacement body and for this a number of polyols can be considered as well as some fibre. Care needs to be taken in serving size as many of these products have a laxative effect. Some also have different performance characters in different 

environments and suppliers make products specific for application (Xylitol is widely used in chewing gum and versions of polydextrose in chocolate).

To make a successful product some key considerations are needed

  1. Sweetness intensity and mouthfeel
  2. pH of product and during processing
  3. temperature and time in processing
  4. Packaging – light permeable, (UV effects can be major)
  5. What is the need on labels and what claims if any will be made
  6. If you know particle size can be helpful – particularly in dry mix
  7. Shelf Life required (Sugar has a preservative effect and removing sugar requires a check on water activity and effect on shelf life)
  8. A list of key ingredients so any that might react with the sweetener or polyol can be identified
  9. Intended end use of product, Labelling requirements and any price points

A knowledge of the process is helpful as it may only be possible to add the sweetener or polyol after heat treatments or ph modification to avoid sweetness loss.

Artificial sweeteners are normally more expensive than sugar kg to kg but much cheaper on a sweetness effect per kg basis and application rates will be different.

FSANZ food standards are important in particular section 15.