Acesulfame K

Acesulfame K

Acesulfame Potassium (K) was approved for use by the FDA as a safe artificial sweetener in July, l988. It is a derivative of acetoacetic acid. Unfortunately, several potential problems associated with the use of acesulfame have been raised. They are based largely on animal studies since testing on humans remains limited. The findings showed the following:

Acesulfame K stimulates insulin secretion in a dose dependent fashion thereby possibly aggravating reactive hypoglycemia (“low blood sugar attacks”).

Acesulfame K apparently produced lung tumors, breast tumors, rare types of tumors of other organs (such as the thymus gland), several forms of leukemia and chronic respiratory disease in several rodent studies, even when less than maximum doses were given. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it was petitioned on August 29, l988 for a stay of approval by the FDA because of “significant doubt” about its safety.

Dr. H.J. Roberts, Aspartame (NutraSweet) Is It Safe?, Charles Press, page 283/84.

Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free artificial sweetener, also known as Acesulfame K or Ace K (K being the symbol for potassium), and marketed under the trade names Sunett and Sweet One. In the European Union, it is known under the E number (additive code) E950.[1] It was discovered accidentally in 1967 by German chemist Karl Clauss at Hoechst AG (now Nutrinova).[2] In chemical structure, acesulfame potassium is the potassium salt of 6-methyl-1,2,3-oxathiazine-4(3H)-one 2,2-dioxide. It is a white crystalline powder with molecular formula C4H4KNO4S and a molecular weight of 201.24.[3]

Acesulfame K is 180-200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), as sweet as aspartame, about half as sweet as saccharin, and one-quarter as sweet as sucralose. Like saccharin, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, especially at high concentrations. Kraft Foods has patented the use of sodium ferulate to mask acesulfame’s aftertaste.[4] Acesulfame K is often blended with other sweeteners (usually sucralose or aspartame). These blends are reputed to give a more sugar-like taste whereby each sweetener masks the other’s aftertaste, and/or exhibits a synergistic effect by which the blend is sweeter than its components.

Unlike aspartame, acesulfame K is stable under heat, even under moderately acidic or basic conditions, allowing it to be used in baking, or in products that require a long shelf life. In carbonated drinks, it is almost always used in conjunction with another sweetener, such as aspartame or sucralose. It is also used as a sweetener in protein shakes and pharmaceutical products,[5] especially chewable and liquid medications, where it can make the active ingredients more palatable.
[edit] Safety concerns

As with other artificial sweeteners, there is concern over the safety of acesulfame potassium. Although studies of these sweeteners show varying and controversial degrees of dietary safety, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has approved their general use. Critics say acesulfame potassium has not been studied adequately and may be carcinogenic, although these claims have been dismissed by the US FDA[6] and by equivalent authorities in the European Union.[7]

Some potential effects associated with acesulfame have appeared in animal studies. Acesulfame K has been shown to stimulate dose-dependent insulin secretion in rats, though no hypoglycemia was observed.[8]

One rodent study showed no increased incidence of tumors in response to administration of acesulfame K.[9] In this study, conducted by the National Toxicology Program, 60 rats were acesulfame K for 40 weeks, making up as much as 3% of their total diet (which would be equivalent to a human consuming 1,343 12-oz cans of artificially sweetened soda every day). There was no sign that these (or lower) levels of acesulfame K increased the rats’ risk of cancer or other neoplasms.[10] Further research in terms of food safety has been recommended.[11][12]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: