What is it?
Erythritol is a plant-based ingredient/additive used in food, obtained from cereals (maize and wheat) in the EU.
Erythritol is a polyol (also known as sugar alcohol) made from wheat or maize. Erythritol can be found naturally in fruits, mushrooms, cheese, wine and soy sauce. It has 60% to 80% of the sweetening power of sucrose/table sugar. It does not affect blood sugar levels and does not cause tooth decay (non-cariogenic). Its refreshing effect is highly sought after by the makers of chewing gum.
Erythritol is produced on a large scale by enzymatic hydrolysis of the starch from maize to generate glucose, which is then fermented with yeast or another micro-organism to produce erythritol.
Erythritol is a white crystalline powder with a clean sweet taste similar to the other polyols. The main difference with other polyols is that it delivers zero calories per gram.
Where and Why is it used?
Erythritol is mainly used in diet and calorie-reduced food and beverages, or in table top sweeteners, because it resembles the taste, appearance and crystal-like structure of sucrose, without adding the calories.
In dairy applications, erythritol is used e.g. in yogurt or custard, to reduce sugar and/or calories without compromising the taste and mouthfeel. In ice cream, erythritol is not only used to reduce calories but also to improve the texture and spoonability due to its freezing point depression. It is also used in cakes for its baking stability and to add softness.
In chewing gum, the polyol erythritol adds freshness because of its high cooling effect, while it also provides a softer texture and greater flexibility. Chocolate with 30% less calories can easily be made with erythritol using traditional manufacturing processes.Erythritol is the newest member of the polyol family and is authorized for use in foods in the EU under the same conditions as all other polyols, except that 0 kcal/g should be used for nutritional labelling purposes. It is an approved food additive in the EU, carrying the identifying E-number E968. Authorization for use of erythritol in specific soft drinks was approved in 2016.
For more information, please visit the website of the European Association of Polyol Producers (EPA).
Ingredients List: Erythritol / E968
Nutritional Table: Polyols (under Carbohydrates)