The future of starch sweeteners

Value added contributions hopefully do not stop with the achievements. The obvious attributes of sweeteners from starch using enzyme techniques offer a complex range of options.

Refined starch sweeteners have proved so important to the food industry that for example since 1985 the Americans have used more corn products than sucrose for their nutritive sweetener needs (Munro, 1994). The wet miller’s value added contributions do not stop with these achievements. The industry maintains its emphasis on science and creation of new products. During recent years introduction of a wide range of value added food ingredients that are still being explored have been seen; for example fat replacers from starch, cyclodextrins for encapsulation, crystalline fructose and new modified starches for microwave applications.

Specialty sweeteners

Sugar alcohols (polyols) like sorbitol and mannitol have been available for more than 50 years and the food industry originally used them to sweeten foods for diabetics, because rapid glycaemic response is avoided. With the growing demand for non-cariogenic and low calorie foods, the available range of polyols had been extended in order to provide process flexibility and improved organoleptic properties.


Polyols like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol are found in low concentrations in a number of fruits, vegetables, cereals etc. Extraction is therefore not an economical way to produce these products. Industrial production of polyols is achieved by catalytic hydrogenation of easily accessible carbohydrates like the starch hydrolysates described. Dextrose and glucose syrups are used for sorbitol products, high maltose syrups for maltitol, xylose for xylitol etc. These products are available as crystalline material or as concentrated solutions.

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