Sweeteners are substances with a sweet taste. Based on their relative sweetness compared to sucrose, sweeteners are divided into intense or bulk sweeteners. In the past, the Scientific Committee on Food was the scientific guarantor for the safety of food additives (including sweeteners) in use within the European Union (EU). At present, this responsibility lies with the European Food Safety Authority. Extensive scientific research has demonstrated the safety of all sweeteners permitted for food use in the EU. Their safety is documented by the results of several in vitro and in vivo animal studies, tests in humans, and in some cases epidemiological studies. Their safety has been evaluated through a risk assessment process covering hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and risk characterization. Permitted sweeteners have been allocated an acceptable daily intake (ADI), which is the amount of a food additive, expressed as mg/kg body weight, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without incurring any appreciable health risk. ADI “acceptable” means that the expected exposure to the substance used in foods at the levels necessary to achieve desired technological effects does not represent a hazard to health. The consumption of sweeteners in the quantities within the ADI does not constitute a health hazard to consumers.
In its conclusions, this review paper highlights that all sweeteners permitted for use in food in the European Union have been subjected to a thorough safety evaluation before their acceptance. Although the scientific evidence clearly indicates that the sweeteners permitted for food use are safe, some individuals remain sceptical about long-term health risks due to their consumption. However, their safety has been documented by the results of many in vitro and in vivo animal studies, tests in humans and, in some cases, epidemiological studies. Therefore, consumption of sweeteners in the quantities within the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) does not constitute a health hazard to consumers.