FSANZ: New low GI sugar substitute not suitable for people with fructose disorders

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today advised that a sugar substitute that it has just approved, called isomaltulose, contains fructose and glucose and is therefore not suitable for people with disorders in fructose metabolism.

People with this condition must avoid all foods containing fructose, even naturally occurring sugars found in fruit.

Isomaltulose provides the same energy as the sugar used in many foods, but is digested more slowly, leading to lower and slower increases in blood glucose when compared to traditional sugar. It is suitable for use as a total or partial replacement for sugar in certain foods.

Dr Bob Boyd, FSANZ’s chief medical adviser, said: ‘We have evaluated the safety of isomaltulose before approving its use in food and have concluded that there are no public health or safety concerns for the general population.

‘However, our evaluation also showed that isomaltulose would not be suitable for consumers with disorders in fructose metabolism – such as hereditary fructose intolerance and fructose malabsorption – because it breaks down into fructose and glucose in the digestive tract.

‘In addition, people who lack, or are deficient in, the enzyme sucrase-isomaltase and cannot digest traditional sugar, will not be able to digest isomaltulose either.’

FSANZ is advising the medical profession, through its peak bodies, to be aware that there are now three sugar substitutes that are unsuitable for people with disorders in fructose metabolism – tagatose, sorbitol and isomaltulose – in addition to the sugar normally used to sweeten foods.

Medical practitioners should advise their patients to check the ingredients list on food labels, where each of these sugar substitutes will be identified, if present in the food.

Isomaltulose will most commonly be found in beverages (e.g. soft drinks, fruit or vegetable drinks), breakfast cereals, jams and marmalades, confectionery, energy-reduced foods and meal replacements.

Further information: People with these disorders who want to know more about the foods they should avoid can contact their general practitioner or medical specialist. There are also support groups for people with metabolic dietary disorders, including the Metabolic Dietary Disorders Association (MDDA) at www.mdda-australia.org .

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