The most toothsome and delicious recipes which come to our mind are always sweet. As there are majorly four flavours which human tongue detects are Bitter, Sweet, Sour and Salty. But we tend to have a taste for sweet because we developed from primates eating fruits from trees and hence having an evolved sweet palate. Our love for sugar and sugary products keep on growing but we often stop thinking about the calories which sugar carries. But with the advent of scientific development it became possible to eat sweet but not absorb it. Aspartame was one of this type, read on to know about what it is all about and How Is Aspartame made.
What Is Aspartame? | How Is Aspartame Made
Aspartame (ASP) is a first-generation sweetener. It is a chemical compound formed from two amino acids namely L-aspartic acid and the methyl ester of L-phenylalanine. Aspartame is a white crystalline odourless compound with a molar mass of 294.31 and a calorific value of 17kJ/kg or 4 calories per gram. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose.Aspartame is not heat stable and losses its integrity below a pH of 3. It is undesirable as a baking sweetening agent & is the most controversial high intensity artificial sweetener. However, clearing all the controversies ASP has came out clean. In an investigation conducted in March,2009 EFSA evaluated ASP and found no genotoxic or carcinogenic potential.
C14H18N2O5 is the chemical formula of aspartame.
History Of Aspartame | Who Invented Aspartame
As like many other thins which we eat like the famous Bengali Rasgulla aspartame was a accidental discovery. It was in the year 1965 when G.D. Searle and Co. chemist James Schlatter when he was recrystalling aspartame from ethanol, some of the substance spilled out of flask. Some of that powder got stuck on his finger and later when he licked it to pick a paper it leaded to the discovery of aspartame.It was finally G.D. Searle and James Schlatter who invented aspartame.
Other Names For Aspartame
Aspartame can be found in market by various names like NutraSweet, Equal, SC-18862, Canderel, Methyl Aspartylphenylalanine, Methyl Ester, Aspartylphenylalanine or AminoSweet which is the latest name.
What Is Aspartame Made From?
It is made through fermentation and synthesis processes. The fermentation helps producing the starting amino acids needed for the manufacture of aspartame. This is done with the help of specific types of bacteria which have the ability to produce certain amino acids. A sample from a pure culture of B. flavum and C. glutamicum bacteria producing L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine respectively are put into a test tube containing the nutrients necessary for its growth. They are moved to a seed tank after they have multiplied in test tube.
The seed tank is filled with things bacteria need to thrive, including warm water and carbohydrate foods like cane molasses, glucose, or sucrose. It also has carbon sources like acetic acid, alcohols or hydrocarbons, and nitrogen sources such as liquid ammonia or urea. It is also equipped with agitators and aerators which help in thriving the bacterial population. Fermentation tank is the last stage for the bacteria’s, it is a larger model of the seed tank. Here, they are allowed to grow and produce large quantities of amino acids. When enough amino acid is produced, the mixture of the fermentation tank is transferred out so isolation can begin. It is separated and filtered through an ion-exchange column. Crystallizing tank is next in isolation of these amino acid. After crystallization they are separated through a crystal separator and dried.
Then aspartame is synthesized from these crystals. L-phenylalanine methyl ester and aspartic acid react together to form aspartame. Aspartic acid is modified to shield the molecule from further reactions, which ensures that reactions take place in specific parts. The modified amino acids L-phenylalanine methyl ester and aspartic acid are pumped to reactor tank and allowed to mix at 64°-68°C for 24 hours. The reaction is then cooled to a temperature around -15° to -18°C causing crystallization. These crystals are to be modified by reacting with acetic acid to form aspartame in the presence of a palladium metal catalyst. This reaction continues for another 12 hours after which these crystals can be purified.
The purification process involves draining the solvent from the previous reaction and filtering out the catalyst. The residue is dissolved in 70 % aqueous solution of ethanol and then recrystallizing. These crystals are filtered and dried to provide the finished, powder aspartame
Foods/Products Containing Aspartame
Aspartame is approved by the US FDA 1996a to be used in general food products. It finds its place in carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, yoghurt, confectionary and so forth. It is widely used in dry products. Aspartame can withstand the heat of dairy products, aseptic processing and other areas where high temperature and low time combination are used and ultra-high temperatures are used.
Sugar-free ice cream,Fruit spreads,Sugar-free ketchup,Sugar-free cookies,Pudding,Nutritional bars,Non-carbonated diet soft drinks,No sugar added pies,Chewing gum,Diet soda,Flavored water products,Iced tea,Ice cream toppings.
Aspartame Number | How Is Aspartame Made
Sweeteners are a part of food additives which are tightly regulated. And they can only be used once their safety has been rigorously assessed. Aspartame was first approved in 1982 in the UK, after the review of its safety by the UK’s Committee on Toxicity, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). Each additive is given a specific number so that they can be identified throughout the world, aspartame has a number E951. There are a series of E number which are provided to food additives.