Sweeteners in food
Learn more about sweeteners, why they’re used, and how they may affect health.
Why sweeteners are used in food
Sweeteners are used to:
- reduce sugar content
- lower the energy content of food.
They are many times sweeter than sugar. This means they can be used in small amounts.
Sweeteners are used instead of sugar because they:
- can be eaten by people who need to manage their energy or sugar intake
- can reduce tooth decay.
Foods that contain sweeteners
Examples of some foods that may use sweeteners are:
- soft drinks
- chewing gum.
Are sweeteners safe?
Studies have shown that most sweeteners are safe.
People who need to limit their intake
Some people have a rare inherited disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). People with PKU can't break down the sweeteners aspartame and aspartame-acesulphame salt.
Foods containing these sweeteners must have a warning on the label.
How sweeteners are regulated in New Zealand
All food additives, including sweeteners, must be assessed for safety by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
Science and research on sweeteners
The safe levels of food additives like sweeteners is calculated using a measure called the "acceptable daily intake" or ADI. ADIs tell you how much of a specific food additive you can safely eat each day, over the course of your life.
The ADI for the sweetener aspartame is 40 milligrams for each kilogram of body weight. To exceed this, a 70 kg adult would have to drink at least 15 to 20 cans of diet soft drink a day – every day of their life.
Sweeteners must be listed on labels
All sweeteners used in food must be listed on the label. Sweeteners are listed under the class name (sweetener), and name or international code number. For example, "sweetener (951)".
Types of sweetener
- Acesulphame potassium (950)
- Alitame (956)
- Aspartame (951)
- Aspartame-acesulphame salt (962)
- Cyclamate (952)
- Neotame (961)
- Saccharin (954)
- Stevia (steviol glycosides) (960)
- Sucralose (955)
- Thaumatin (957)
Reports and studies on sweeteners
Who to contact
If you have questions about sweeteners, email firstname.lastname@example.org