Sweeteners in Baking
In Canada, food additives such as sugar substitutes, which cover both artificial sweeteners and intense sweeteners obtained from natural sources, are subject to rigorous controls under the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations. New food additives (or new uses of permitted food additives) are permitted only once a safety assessment has been conducted and regulatory amendments have been enacted.
Several sugar substitutes have been approved for use in Canada. These include acesulfame-potassium, aspartame, polydextrose, saccharin, stevia, sucralose, thaumatin, and sugar alcohols (polyols) like sorbitol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, and xylitol. Please see the Health Canada webpage Sugar Substitutes for more information on sugar substitutes.
Bakers must be careful when replacing sugar (sucrose) with these sugar substitutes in recipes. Even though the sweetness comparison levels may be similar (or less), it is generally not possible to do straight 1-for-1 substitution. Sugar (sucrose) plays many roles in a recipe:
- It is a bulking agent.
- It absorbs moisture.
- It is a tenderizer.
- It adds moisture and extends shelf life.
- It adds colour (caramelization).
Sugar substitutes may not work in a recipe in the same way.
More information on sugar substitutes and their relative sweetness can be found online.