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Intense Sweeteners Survey

(February 2004)

The present research forms part of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) Evaluation Strategy 2001-2003, designed to assess the impact of implementing the Code (FSANZ 2001). This study uses the 1994 research as baseline data on Australians’ dietary exposure to intense sweeteners.

The parameters of the latest research, however, were extended to include investigation of the consumption patterns and exposure to intense sweeteners of Australians aged 40 years and over, as well as of the New Zealand population. In addition, there was a supplementary diary survey of people with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

Executive summary

Background

Food additives permitted for use in the Australian and New Zealand food supply are identified in the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (‘the Code’). In December 2000 the Code was adopted to replace both the Australian Food Standards Code and relevant New Zealand Food Regulations, although the standard covering food additives (Standard 1.3.1) was in place before December 2000. There was a two-year transition period before the new Code became fully implementable from 20 December 2002. Standard 1.3.1of the Code permits eight intense sweeteners to be used - cyclamate, saccharin, aspartame, acesulphame-K, sucralose, alitame, neotame and thaumatin.

In 1994, the then National Food Authority commissioned Roy Morgan Research to undertake preliminary research into intense sweetener consumption patterns in Australia. The aims of that research were to provide baseline data for 12 to 39 year old Australians on exposure to the intense sweeteners cyclamate, saccharin, aspartame and acesulphame-K and to identify sub-groups of the population who may have been at risk of exceeding the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for individual intense sweeteners. Dietary exposure was estimated by combining survey data on individual respondents’ weekly consumption of different foods with data on the level of intense sweetener in each food. Neither alitame nor sucralose exposure were included in that survey as there were few products containing these two intense sweeteners available in the market at that time. In the 1994 study, high consumers of saccharin and cyclamate had exposures to these sweeteners that approached or exceeded their respective ADIs.

The present research forms part of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) Evaluation Strategy 2001-2003, designed to assess the impact of implementing the Code (FSANZ 2001). This study uses the 1994 research as baseline data on Australians’ dietary exposure to intense sweeteners. The parameters of the latest research, however, were extended to include investigation of the consumption patterns and exposure to intense sweeteners of Australians aged 40 years and over, as well as of the New Zealand population. In addition, there was a supplementary diary survey of people with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

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