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WASHINGTON - U.S. health officials said Friday they approved a new sweetener, neotame, that is about 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, Reuters reports.
The Food and Drug Administration said neotame, a water soluble, white crystalline powder, can be used as a tabletop sweetener as well as in cooking and food processing. It has been approved for use in a variety of food products including baked goods, soft drinks, chewing gum, jams and jellies, and processed fruits and fruit juices.
Neotame is made by privately held NutraSweet Company of Mount Prospect, Ill., the firm that makes the artificial sweetener NutraSweet, or aspartame. Neotame is about 20 to 30 times sweeter than aspartame, depending upon its application, FDA spokeswoman Carrie Ainsworth-Wright said.
The FDA said it reviewed data on neotame from more than 11 animal and human studies that were designed to look for cancer-causing, reproductive or neurological effects.
"From its evaluation of the neotame database, the FDA was able to conclude that neotame is safe for human consumption," the agency said in a statement.