Sucralose

What is Sucralose?

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that was first discovered in 1976. It is between 320 and 1,000 times sweeter than regular sugar.

Description:

Sometimes there are good stories behind scientific discoveries.  Sucralose has one of those stories.  Back in 1976, two researchers named Leslie Hough and Shashikant Phadnis were helping to find ways to use natural and artificial sugars in industry.  Shashikant was asked to test a particular compound.  He misheard and thought that he was asked to taste the compound.1  The compound turned out to be extremely sweet.  That is how sucralose was discovered!

Sucralose is actually made from real sugar.   The sugar is processed by replacing three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms.2

When packaged for consumer use, sucralose is combined with bulking agents.  These bulking agents are typically  maltodextrin or dextrose.  Both are made from corn.

Sucralose has an E number of 955.

Sucralose Structure

Sucralose Structure

Purpose:

Sucralose is stable under heat so it is often used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life.  It is used where there is a need for a zero calorie sweetener.  It is often used in combination or as a replacement for other artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin.

Common Uses:

In the U.S. and Canada, sucralose is marketed under the brand name Splenda.

It is found is many products including:

  • diet drinks
  • candies
  • baked goods
  • canned fruit

Sucralose is relatively stable at high heat.  This makes it useful in baked products.  However, it does melt like sugar.  It also doesn’t dissolve in liquids quite the same way as sugar.  Often the bulking agents combined with sucralose will dissolve producing a behaviour that is close to sugar.  All this means that products baked with just sucralose may have a drier texture.  Products baked with sugar will be moister.

Side Effects/Health Issues:

Sucralose has been approved for use in many countries including Canada3, the U.S.4, Australia5 and the European Union.

Sucralose mostly passes through the body without being absorbed (which is why it is zero calories).

There is a risk that sucralose may impact the environment.  It passes through our bodies without being absorbed. But, it is not easily broken down most most sewage treatment processes.  The result is that we are beginning to find traces of sucralose in rivers and other bodies of water.

Notes:

PepsiCo, has recently announced that they will be using sucralose as a replacement for aspartame in Diet Pepsi (in the U.S.).  They are joined by many other companies who have recently made announcements about removing or replacing certain food additives.

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia – Sucralose
  2. Splenda
  3. Health Canada – Approved Sweeteners
  4. FDA – Food Additive Status List
  5. Food Standards, Australia and New Zealand
  6. European Commission Food Additive Database

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Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Sweetener
One comment on “Sucralose
  1. Taste instead of test– good thing that mistake was on such a benign product! Interesting background on that one, sounds less questionable than some of the other artificial sweeteners.

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