Acesulfame K (Ace-K And Sunette®) is another sweetener we need to avoid. Popular in Europe and Canada, it is now one of the top two commercial sweeteners used mostly in “blends” in the United States.
So, what is Acesulfame K?
This sweetener is composed of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur and potassium—a form of fertilizer. Acesulfame K is typically used in combination with aspartame or other sweeteners because it has a synergistic effect (the ability to combine easily) that enhances and sustains the sweet taste of foods and beverages better than any other chemical sugar substitute discovered to date. It is heat stable, so it can be used in baked products better than aspartame.
Pepsi-Cola’s PepsiOne® was the first “major” brand to be launched in the United States after the approval of ace-K in July 2003. PepsiOne blended ace-K with aspartame. Smaller brands of carbonated sodas, fruit drinks and nutraceutical beverages using ace-K blends are now marketed in the United States.
Ace-K, which has been used in Europe since 1983, is a favored blending counterpart for manufacturers because it appears very stable in beverages that are too harsh for other non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame.
As a result, Nutrinova (The European parent company of ace-K) representatives are pushing Sunette blends to be used in all beverage products, including “healthy” fruit drinks and milk-based drinks, along with colas.
The Sweetener Blends
Acesulfame-K is most often used in blending with other sweeteners because the potassium salt increases its solubility. This makes it a great blending partner for manufacturers, and also stimulates digestion because its sweet taste immediately releases when it reacts to the nitrogen in the saliva. Interestingly, the manufacturers claim that, like Splenda®, ace-K does not metabolize in the body and is excreted only in the urine.
Like with Splenda, I find that hard to believe, especially since ace K’s marketability is because it is so soluble.
“Blending sweeteners is state-of-the-art in regions such as Europe,” says Maria Dolores Perez, Nutrinova’s global marketing manager for beverages and sweeteners, “They have been blending Sunett with other sweeteners in Germany for years. In the U.S., it’s just getting started. I think it’s just a question of time before the trend to blend will be state-of-the-art in the U.S., as well.”
So What’s Wrong With This Chemical Sweetener?
I’m sorry to keep repeating the same thing, but yet another carcinogen is used in the manufacturing of this product. It is methylene chloride, which even the FDA states in their Final Rule Report on acesulfame K, is a cancer-causing component.
Documented in the FDA Final Rule Report: “Methylene chloride is used as a solvent in the initial step in the manufacturing process of acesulfame potassium and may be present as an impurity in the additive.”
The December 1, 1994 59 FR 61538 document states, “ … these hydrolysis products are formed under extreme conditions of temperature and/or pH: Methylene chloride, a carcinogenic chemical, is a potential impurity in ACK (ace-K) resulting from its use as a solvent in the initial manufacturing step of the sweetener … ”
As far as I’m concerned, the FDA recognizes the presence of a known carcinogen in acesulfame K, and knowing that, I recommend avoiding it, especially for pregnant women and children.
If this chemical sweetener is that bad on its own, what is it going to do when you mix it with sucralose and aspartame to make the sweetener blends?
So now we are mixing methanol in aspartame, chlorine in Splenda, and methylene chloride in ace-K.
Methylene chloride, used commonly in manufacturing, is a dangerous poison. This is the actual warning from CHEMTRC and The Emergency Response Center’s MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) concerning methylene chloride:
WARNING! Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through skin. Affects central nervous system, liver, cardiovascular system, and blood. Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Suspect cancer hazard.
Health Rating: Severe (Cancer Causing)
Contact Rating: Severe
Lab Protective Equip: GOGGLES & SHIELD, LAB COAT & APRON, VENT HOOD, PROPER GLOVES
Storage Color Code: Blue (Health)
Methylene chloride may cause cancer in humans. Risk of cancer depends on level and duration of exposure.
POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS OF METHYLONE CHLORIDE:
Inhalation: Causes irritation to respiratory tract. Has a strong narcotic effect with symptoms of mental confusion, light-headedness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and headache. Causes formation of carbon monoxide in blood that affects cardiovascular system and central nervous system. Continued exposure may cause increased light-headedness, staggering, unconsciousness and even death. Exposure may make the symptoms of angina (chest pains) worse.
Ingestion: May cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract with vomiting. If vomiting results in aspiration, chemical pneumonia could follow. Absorption through gastrointestinal tract may produce symptoms of central nervous system depression ranging from light-headedness to unconsciousness.
Skin Contact: Causes irritation, redness and pain. Prolonged contact can cause burns. Liquid degreases the skin. May be absorbed through skin.
Eye Contact: Vapors can cause eye irritation. Contact can produce pain, inflammation and temporal eye damage.
Chronic Exposure: Can cause headache, mental confusion, depression, liver effects, kidney effects, bronchitis, loss of appetite, nausea, lack of balance, and visual disturbances. Can cause dermatitis upon prolonged skin contact. Methylene chloride may cause cancer in humans.
Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Persons with pre-existing skin disorders, eye problems, impaired liver, kidney, respiratory or cardiovascular function may be more susceptible to the effects of this substance.
Check your labels for acesulfame K, especially when it is used in the sweetener blends. Who knows what the combination of diet chemicals is doing to your body.