EFSA re-confirms confidence in Thaumatin

ISA welcomes the new EFSA scientific opinion on Thaumatin

Brussels, 30th November 2021: The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) welcomes the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion, published today, which reconfirms that the low calorie sweetener thaumatin is safe for use in food and beverages and that there are no safety concerns at current exposure levels.1

In accordance with European regulations, EFSA was asked by the European Commission to undertake a re-evaluation of all food additives permitted for use in the European Union before January 2009, including sweeteners. The re-evaluation of thaumatin is a part of this process. In their review, EFSA’s scientific experts assessed the totality of the available scientific evidence, including toxicological, intake and epidemiological data and concluded that thaumatin is safe when used as a food additive.

This reconfirms results of previous evaluations conducted by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)2, and other regulatory authorities around the world, including member states of the European Union.

At a time when obesity and non-communicable diseases including diabetes and dental diseases remain major global health challenges, and in light of current public health recommendations to reduce overall sugar intake, thaumatin, as all low/no calorie sweeteners, can be helpful in creating healthier food environments. They provide people with a wide choice of sweet-tasting options with low or no calories, and thus can be a useful tool, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet, in helping reduce overall sugar and calorie intake3 , as well as in managing blood glucose levels.4 Low/no calorie sweeteners are also not fermentable by oral bacteria, which means that they do not contribute to tooth demineralisation, which is one of the reasons for tooth decay.5

  1. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6884
  2. http://www.fao.org/food/food-safety-quality/scientific-advice/jecfa/en/
  3. Rogers PJ and Appleton KM. The effects of low-calorie sweeteners on energy intake and body weight: a systematic review and meta-analyses of sustained intervention studies. Int J Obes (Lond) 2021;45(3):464-478. doi:10.1038/s41366-020-00704-2. Epub 2020 Nov 9.
  4. Diabetes UK. The use of low or no calorie sweeteners. Position Statement (Updated December 2018). Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/food-nutrition-lifestyle/use-of-low-or-no-calorie-sweetners
  5. EFSA Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to intense sweeteners. EFSA 2011 Journal 9(6): 2229, and 9(4): 2076.