Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Search for sugar substitutes by mankind contributed to the discovery of many chemicals, some natural and others synthetic, with properties equal or greater than that of sucrose. But many of them flourished for some time while a few sustained themselves through the fierce controversies surrounding their safety for long term use as sweeteners. Currently Sucralose, Aspartame and Stevia sugars dominate the market place for alternate calorie free sweeteners while search is still going on for more options vis vis natural sugar substitutes. Rare sugar, originating from japan is the latest entrant in this field and in spite of it becoming a darling of the "crowd" there, it remains to be seen whether Rare sugar will really spread its wings out side Japan. Here is a take on this latest development in the area of sugar substitutes.     

"While it was possible to use the enzyme discovered by Izumori to transform fructose into pure rare sugar, the process was costly. Kagawa University researchers, in conjunction with private-sector researchers, eventually found a solution to make cost-effective products. The university, which formed a joint venture with Hyogo Prefecture-based Matsutani Chemical Industry Co. and others, developed a low-cost method to produce a syrup containing D-Psicose, albeit with only a small concentration of around 6 percent, by specially treating inexpensive glucose-fructose syrup using heat. Although much of the syrup is sugar based, the company says its testing shows it still possesses obesity-preventing and blood sugar-suppressing properties. When the venture started marketing its new syrup in Kagawa Prefecture for industrial use in 2011, food companies lined up to buy the syrup as a replacement for sugar in some of their products. Nationwide sales to manufacturers of the syrup started in June 2012. There are now around 50 companies selling more than 100 food products containing the syrup. A restaurant chain also uses it to make broth for its Sanuki udon noodles".

The fact that is an isomer of fructose may make it more acceptable as no chemical reaction is involved. However the data provided on its safety need to be confirmed by independent scientific groups before consumers can accept it globally. Another worrying fact is that the commercial product in the market contains high amounts of fructose which is perceived as an obesity abettor by many scientists. Nonetheless the very fact that there is a huge demand for this product in Japanese market does promise a good future for such type of sugars   


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