Definitions of the term ’artificial’ are almost as hotly contested as its flip side, ’natural’. But when it comes to sweeteners, at least, there is a fairly clear distinction to be made between what is ’artificial’ and what is not (see panel). What is more controversial, especially in the context of baked goods, is where these different types of sweetener can, and should, be used.This spring saw the relaunch of a Europe-wide campaign to allow the use of intense sweeteners in the production of ’energy-reduced’ sweet baked goods and those ’with no added sugar’. This was waged by the Brussels-based CAOBISCO chocolate, biscuit and confectionery manufacturers’ association, together with the International Sweeteners Association. Not for the first time, their efforts were fended off by the member state food authorities. CAOBISCO’s director of regulatory affairs Penelope Alexandre explains: “They claim not to see the benefit for consumers, and say they need to look into it more closely.”She paints a picture of rejection and disappointment, warning: “There’s an obesity epidemic, and we need to do something about this. We need to reformulate.” Heat-stable intense sweeteners would make a valuable contribution here, she argues.This time around, the associations came armed with a new dossier and an agreement that any change would only affect packaged goods, so that consumers would have information about the sweeteners in each product. But to no avail.For its part, the Food Standards Authority (FSA) conjures up an image of reasoned deliberation. A spokeswoman reports “an initial discussion”, where “no decision was taken”. She adds: “To take forward the discussion between member states and the European Parliament, the FSA wants to see a debate involving stakeholders, which would cover the technological need for the use of intense sweeteners, as well as an assessment of their safety.”Any ball would recognise this as shorthand for being kicked into some very long grass. CAOBISCO claims not to have abandoned its efforts entirely. But there is little point fighting for a level playing field when you cannot even get near the pitch.So what of the permitted alternatives? Alexandre admits that polyols have already made substantial contributions to reducing sugar. And at French supplier Roquette, market development manager Henri Gilliard says: “Our SweetPearl maltitol has a lower glycemic index and 40% fewer calories than sugar. The calorie reduction for reformulated biscuits, compared to those with sugar, will be between 5% and 10%.”But CAOBISCO also points out that polyols can have a laxative effect, requiring an on-pack warning. And perhaps most importantly, they do not give the same sweetness profile or intensity as sugar.Henry Hussell, head of marketing at Cargill Sweetness Europe, confirms that products containing more than 10% polyols do require a laxative warning. “To justify an ’energy-reduced’ or ’calorie-reduced’ claim, a product must achieve a minimum 30% energy reduction,” he explains. In a snack bar, this might mean replacing 25g of sugar with a combination of 6.25g of sugar and 18.75g of polyols. “In practice, there would also need to be additional reductions of the fat and carbohydrate content,” he says. “In many cases, it would be necessary to reformulate the product, as well as the process conditions, to achieve a calorie-reduced product with desirable characteristics.”Tantalisingly, he adds: “It’s too early to give any details, but we are working on fresh approaches in the bakery area, that would enable manufacturers to provide ’better for you’ products that can deliver on traditional ’eating enjoyment’ expectations.”—-=== Sweet and sour notes ===Bulk sweeteners, including the polyols sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol, are produced from cereals by a process of hydrogenation. Intense sweeteners, sometimes characterised as ’artificial sweeteners’, are the result of chemical synthesis. Heat-stable intense sweeteners include sucralose and neotame.Polyols are authorised in the EU (Directive 94/35/EC) for use in energy-reduced and no-added-sugar fine bakery products, as well as certain confectionery and chocolate categories, says supplier Roquette.Intense sweeteners, on the other hand, are only permitted in fine bakery products intended for special nutritional purposes – that is, dietary products – even though their use in no-added-sugar confectionery is allowed.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Mike Filippone, of North Babylon, will make his third attempt at a Guinness World Record on Saturday. (Photo: Handout)A North Babylon man will be looking to make the record books Saturday during an event to raise money for a memorial fund dedicated to a beloved friend who was killed by a drunk driver two years ago.Mike Filippone won’t be chasing just any record either—he’s pursuing a Guinness World Record that he helped create.Three years ago, Filippone was driving around in his truck when the idea dawned on him. So that year, he recommended the batting marathon record to Guinness and then headed to the diamond for his first shot at grabbing the record.Filippon couldn’t complete the 24-hour marathon and then missed out on the record again last year by only five hours. But now he’s ready to dig into the batter’s box again and he’s confident this year will be different.“I really feel like I have a good chance,” he said when reached by phone Friday.Filippone, a 52-year-old father of four, will sprint onto the diamond with a heavy heart. He selected Father’s Day weekend so he could pay tribute to his own father who passed away, as well as Dan Gambardella, his friend and fellow baseball coach killed by a drunk driver in April 2011.“It’s going to be hard day,” he said. “But you know what? It has a special meaning.”Gambardella’s widow, Linda, who has dedicated her life to helping struggling families in the community, established the Dan Gambardella Memorial Fund after his death.And she’s even played a part in Saturday’s batting marathon, which is expected to draw hundreds of local residents prepared to cheer Filippone on during his quest to reach Guinness World Record fame—and at the same time, raise thousands of dollars in his friend’s name.Linda is the one who suggested that a personal trainer at a kickboxing gym in Copiague train Filippone to improve his endurance. Since then, Filippone has been training three days a week. He pointed to his newfound exercise routine as the reason why he’s so confident going into this year’s baseball-smashing marathon.“The expectations are higher,” he said, adding that the record-breaking challenge has “really taken over my life.”Sure, he wants to finally claim the record, but he’s not overly concerned about the outcome. Whether or not Filippone puts his name in the record books or not, he just hopes North Babylon residents will come out in droves to contribute to the Dan Gambardella Memorial Fund.“He was the nicest guy you’d ever want to know,” he said of Gambardella.The event starts at 8 a.m. at Phelps Lane Park in North Babylon.
The statement came as worry mounted that the mosquito-borne virus, which has spread across much of Latin America and which can lead to severe birth defects in babies, might spread further when the Olympics begin in August.”The Committee concluded that there is a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as Brazil will be hosting the Games during the Brazilian winter,” the WHO said.The global health agency explained that the intensity of the transmission of viruses like dengue and Zika “will be minimal”.Brazilian authorities are “intensifying vector-control measures in and around the venues for the Games which should further reduce the risk of transmission,” the WHO said.The committee however said Brazil should make sure it boosts its control measures in cities where the Games will be held.In Brazil, some 1.5 million people have been infected with the virus, and nearly 1,300 babies have been born with microcephaly – abnormally small heads and brains – since the outbreak of Zika began there last year.The virus, which usually causes only mild, flu-like symptoms, can also trigger adult-onset neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can cause paralysis and death.In an added complication, there is limited, but growing evidence that Zika can be transmitted sexually.There is no vaccine for Zika.A number of high-profile athletes have expressed concerns over the virus, with Boomers star Andrew Bogut saying it was expected the Internatonal and Australian Olympic committees would say everything is fine in Rio.”The (International) Olympic Committee and the AOC are obviously saying everything is fine,” Bogut said.”No shit. They want you to go. I take it with a grain of salt what they’re putting out.”Just being bitten by a mosquito and then come down with something is a pretty scary prospect.”I’ve had my yellow fever shot already, which is a battle in itself. And then you’ve got malaria and you’ve got Zika. So being able to get that from an insect is pretty scary stuff.”Australia’s world number one golfer Jason Day also has reservations about travelling to Rio, while Olympic gold medal-winning long jumper Greg Rutherford has frozen his sperm as a precaution.AFP/ABC