The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has approved the test to measure levels of sweeteners in foodstuffs as a European standard (EN 15911:2010).
This means that the test will be used by national standard organisations in the EU as well as Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to evaluate sweetener levels in both imported products and food from within the EU.
Sweeteners under the microscope
Developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) at the European Commission in 2007, the test uses liquid chromatographic with evaporative light scattering detection to measure sweetener levels.
It is able to simultaneously test for six EU authorised sweeteners including acesulfame-K (ACS-K), aspartame (ASP), cyclamic acid (CYC), saccharin (SAC), sucralose (SUC), neotame (NEO) and neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC). The method can also test for two non-authorised sweeteners: alitame (ALI) and dulcin (DUL).
In a single analysis, the method identifies which sweeteners have been used and shows whether the concentrations of the authorised ones are within maximum dosage limits.
David Anderson, a spokesperson for the JRC, said the CEN chose the new test for three reasons.
“For the first time, simultaneous determination of these nine sweeteners is possible, with subsequent savings in time, money and resources. Second, because the quality of the analytical technique had already been clearly demonstrated via the collaborative validation study.1
“And third, with the comprehensive revision of European legislation for sweeteners which took place prior to the work of the JRC, there was a need for updated methodology in the field from control authorities and industry alike.”
As well as being adopted by official control authorities in Europe, Anderson said the test has attracted a lot of interest from industry.
The spokesperson said: “The method has also resulted in great interest from the food industry since it permits food manufacturers to perform rigourous in-house quality control of raw ingredients, as well as of their finished products.”
News of the test becoming a European standard comes as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) prepares to issue a scientific statement on two recent studies that questioned the safety of artificial sweeteners. To read more about the upcoming statement, please click here.
1(Publication EUR 22726 Buchgraber, M. and Wasik, A.: "Validation of an Analytical Method for the Simultaneous Determination of Nine Intense Sweeteners by HPLC-ELSD", ISBN 978-92-79-05354-2).
This article was amended on 15 February from the original published 9 February to correct an erroneous reference to neotame as a non-approved sweetener