Neotame is a non-nutritive artificial sweetener that is between 7000 and 13000 times sweeter than sugar. Neotame is also known as E961 and N-(N-(3, 3-Dimethylbutyl)-L-α-aspartyl)-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester. It is used to sweeten all kinds of foods and drinks, either on its own or in combination with other nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners.
This sweetener is well absorbed by the body and does not accumulate in it. Neotame was approved by the European Union in 2010 and so far there have been no discovered side effects from it.
Neotame has been the target of more than 100 studies. After review of the studies done, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that use of neotame as a sweetener and flavor enhancer of food and drinks is completely safe and does not have any consequences for the human body and our development. The FDA's evaluation is based on studies done on people and animals, who took amounts of neotame far exceeding the expected usage levels.
The results of the studies confirmed that neotame can even be used by pregnant and nursing women, children and people with diabetes, as well as those suffering from phenylketonuria. It has the same sweet taste as sugar but because of its potent sweetening properties it needs to be used in exceptionally small quantities.
Composition of Neotame
Neotame contains amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
History of Neotame
Neotame was made by NutraSweet, the same company that created aspartame. Neotame was first produced by chemists at the end of the 20th century. The goal was for the new artificial sweetener to be significantly sweeter than aspartame and to also dissolve easier in water and alcoholic drinks. Further, manufacturers wanted neotame not to leave behind a bitter aftertaste as most artificial sweeteners did and they worked persistently to achieve this.
The chemists managed to achieve their goal and neotame turned out to be much better than aspartame and acesulfame K, which leave a specific, light, bitter taste in the mouth after use. At the beginning of the 21st century, neotame was approved for general use by the American FDA and the European Union, while currently this sweetener is approved for use in over 50 countries, including the US, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Israel and Iran.
Production of Neotame
This crystallized or granulated powder is a derivative of the non-nutritive artificial sweetener aspartame and is between 30 to 60 times sweeter than it. Neotame is synthesized from aspartame and 3.3-dimethylbutyl using a specific heat process. The chemical substance is rinsed, dried and then packaged.
Daily Dose of Neotame
The recommended dosage is 0.1 mg of the substance per 2 lb (1 kg) of body weight. Because of its link to aspartame, which is considered a carcinogenic and toxic sweetener, neotame has been studied and tested many times by scientists. Numerous tests on animals and people have been carried out, proving that consumption of neotame even in quantities far exceeding the daily recommended dose do not affect the growth and development of children. There have been no toxic effects observed even in quantities up to 40 000 times greater than the average daily dose.
Choosing and Storing Neotame
This artificial sweetener is sold in tablet or powdered form, in airtight packaging, with these products distinguished by their lower price. When buying neotame or products that contain it, always check the expiration date. If stored in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight, 1 package of neotame can be used for up to 5 years.
Benefits of Neotame
Even though consumers still view this product with skepticism, so far it has been considered a safe sweetener. Neotame manages to completely substitute sugar in many products, such as cereals, frozen desserts, ice creams, gums, baked goods, purees, juices, shakes, nectars and more. It can be used right away or added to a cooking recipe that requires heat treatment. In both cases, its taste qualities are preserved.
Neotame is low in calories and suitable for overweight people who are trying to maintain special diets but cannot imagine life without something sweet to eat. Diabetics can also eat their favorite desserts by substituting the sugar in them with neotame, without this having side effects on their health.
At the same time, research shows that neotame can be used by pregnant women and nursing mothers since it does not have consequences for fetal development. Even so, future mothers should not forget that during this crucial period they need to consume highly nutritious products and neotame is not among these. For this reason, pregnant and nursing women should consult with an expert before they begin using this sweetener.
It has also been proven that neotame can be used by children because it does not affect their development or change their behavior. But its consumption is not recommended for children under 2 because they have the greatest need of natural food products, rich in healthy substances. According to scientists, neotame can be included in a healthy diet for kids suffering from obesity, as long as their parents consult with a pediatrician beforehand.
Neotame has been the subject of study for 20 years now. It's been proven not to have any effect on bacteria in the mouth cavity and plus does not cause cavities. Cavities can be caused by other ingredients found in food but not by E 961.
Dangers of Neotame
Despite the numerous studies done on neotame, some scientists insist that this sugar substitute is harmful and no less toxic than all the other artificial sweeteners. What's more - according to some researchers, it is the very consumption of sweeteners other than sugar that "confuses" the body and causes weight gain. That is why when it comes to food products containing neotame, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose and even stevia, it's best to be cautious and not overconsume them.See more