Sweeteners

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository

Table of Contents

Overview

The intent of this webpage is to outline the labelling requirements for sweeteners (definition) and foods that contain sweeteners.

The only sweeteners that are permitted for use in Canada are the ones written in the List of Permitted Sweeteners, published on the Department of Health website. In order for these sweeteners to be used, they must be used in accordance with the permitted foods, maximum levels of use, and other conditions outlined in the List of Permitted Sweeteners.

Sweeteners and sweetening agents are not synonymous terms. Sweetening agents (definition), such as granulated sugar and honey, are regulated in Division 18 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), and must comply with the standards outlined in that Division. This webpage will not be discussing information related to sweetening agents.

Mandatory Labelling of Sweeteners

Like all food additives, sweeteners must be declared in the List of Ingredients of the prepackaged foods which they are present in [B.01.008, FDR]. See Order of Ingredients for more information.

In addition, several sweeteners and foods containing sweeteners are subject to the following mandatory labelling requirements:

Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame-potassium and/or Neotame Labelling

The following table outlines what must be declared on the labels of prepackaged products that contain aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium and/or neotame when present in a food or sold as a table-top sweetener [B.01.014, B.01.015, B.01.016, B.01.017, B.01.019, B.01.020, B.01.022, B.01.023, FDR].

Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Products that Contain Aspartame, Sucralose Acesulfame-Potassium and Neotame
Labelling Requirements In a Food Table-top Sweetener
A statement on the principal display panel to the effect that the food contains or is sweetened with "aspartame", "sucralose", "acesulfame-potassium", and/or "neotame". Check Check
If aspartame is used in conjunction with other sweeteners, a statement to the effect that the food contains, or is sweetened with "aspartame", and the name(s) of the other sweetener(s).
[e.g. "sweetened with aspartame and xylitol"]
Check
If sucralose, acesulfame-potassium or neotame are used in conjunction with other sweeteners, sweetening agents, or both, a statement to the effect that the food contains, or is sweetened with "sucralose", "acesulfame-potassium" or "neotame", as the case may be, and the name of other sweetener(s), sweetening agent(s) or both.
[e.g. "sweetened with sucralose, fructose and sugar"]
Check
When the three statements above are required, they must be declared in letters that are at least the same size and prominence as the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration. Check Check
A statement declaring the sweetness per serving, expressed in terms of the amount of sugar required to produce an equivalent degree of sweetness, grouped with the list of ingredients [FDR B.01.008(1)]. Check
A statement setting out the "aspartame", "sucralose", "acesulfame-potassium" and/or "neotame" content expressed in milligrams per serving size, grouped with the list of ingredients [FDR B.01.008(1)]. This statement cannot appear in the Nutrition Facts Table. Check Check
In the case of aspartame, a statement, grouped with the list of ingredients [FDR B.01.008(1)], to the effect that aspartame contains phenylalanine. Check Check
A Nutrition Facts Table [B.01.401(4)(d), FDR]. Check Check

Polydextrose Labelling Requirements

Polydextrose is a permitted food additive synthesized from dextrose (glucose). The label of a food containing polydextrose must indicate the amount of polydextrose, expressed in grams per serving of stated size [B.01.018]. The amount of polydextrose must be included in the total amount of carbohydrates declared in the Nutrition Facts Table. See Elements within the Nutrition Facts Table for more information.

For more information on polydextrose, refer to Health Canada's web page on Sugar Alcohols and Polydextrose.

Sugar Alcohols Labelling Requirements

Sugar alcohols (definition) (i.e. polyols) provide energy in the form of carbohydrates similarly to sweetening agents (i.e. white and brown table sugars). They are also known as sugar relatives, and provide fewer calories per gram than typical sweetening agents. The sugar alcohols (i.e. polyols) that are permitted for use as food additives in Canada are: hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol and erythritol.

When these sugar alcohols are present in a food, their total content must be declared in the Nutrition Facts Table in grams per stated serving size [FDR B.01.402]. See Elements within the Nutrition Facts Table for more information.

For more information on sugar alcohols, refer to Health Canada's web page on Sugar Alcohols and Polydextrose.

Additional Requirements

Additional Information about Sweeteners

The majority of sweeteners are non-nutritive sweeteners (definition), with a few exceptions (e.g. sugar alcohols and polydextrose). For more information about sweeteners that provide calories, see Elements within the Nutrition Facts Table.

Non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium, neotame, stevia, cyclamate and saccharin, do not provide calories on their own. When these sweeteners are added to foods, they may however contain calories from other ingredients or components that are added to the food with them, such as carriers. It is therefore the responsibility of the manufacturer account for this when developing nutrition labels.

Steviol glycosides Labelling Requirements

There are no additional labelling requirements for steviol glycosides when used as a food additive. The labelling requirements for steviol glycosides are the same as those applicable to all prepackaged products and ingredients. Additional labelling requirements only occur when steviol glycosides are used in combination with other sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium and neotame [B.01.014, B.01.016-B.01.019, B.01.022].

Saccharin as a food additive

An amendment to the FDR came into force on May 4, 2016, introducing new use for saccharin as food additive in table-top sweeteners. As part of this amendment, a one year transitional period allows time for saccharin sweeteners that were sold prior these amendments to become compliant with the new labelling and advertising requirements. As of May 4, 2016, only the new rules of use and label of saccharin will be allowed. Refer to the Former labelling and advertising requirements for Saccharin for requirements under the previous rules.

Saccharin and its salts (calcium saccharin, potassium saccharin and sodium saccharin) are part of Health Canada's List of Permitted Sweeteners. This enables the use of saccharin and/or its salts as sweeteners in: breath fresheners, unstandardized canned fruit, chewing gum, unstandardized frozen desserts, toppings/topping mixes, unstandardized alcoholic liqueurs, unstandardized carbonated non-alcoholic beverages, and unstandardized fruit spreads. On May 4, 2016 Health Canada amended the list of permitted additives to permit the use of Saccharin as a table-top sweetener. Saccharin is not permitted as an ingredient in any other foods. Like all other food additives, when used as permitted, saccharin and/or its salts are required to be shown in the list of ingredients on pre-packaged foods. For more details, refer to Health Canada's Notice of Modification to the List of Permitted Sweeteners to Enable the Use of Saccharin, Calcium Saccharin, Potassium Saccharin and Sodium Saccharin as sweeteners in Various Unstandardized Foods.

Cyclamate as non-food product

Cyclamate is only permitted as non-food product under specific conditions.

As per Part E of the FDR, cyclamate sweeteners (definition) are not permitted to be used in foods as they are considered to be adulterants when added to foods [E.01.001, FDR]. These sweeteners are subject to Part E of the FDR, which thereby exempts them from Part B of the FDR [E.01.001(2)].

Cyclamate sweeteners as non-food products are only allowed to be sold for direct consumer use when they meet the following conditions [E.01.002, FDR]:

  • No person shall sell cyclamate sweeteners that are not labelled as required by this Part.
  • No person shall, in advertising a cyclamate sweetener to the general public, make any representation other than with respect to the name, price and quantity of the sweetener [E.01.003, FDR].

The label of cyclamate sweeteners that meet the specifications above must additionally carry:

  • A list of ingredients
  • The quantity of each of the following in the sweetener:
    1. cyclohexyl sulfamic acid,
    2. a salt of cyclohexyl sulfamic acid,
    3. carbohydrates where present;
  • The energy value expressed in Calories per teaspoon, drop, tablet or other measure used in the directions for use and per 100 grams or millilitres of the sweetenerFootnote 1
  • The following cautionary statement:
    A statement that the sweetener should be used only on the advice of a physician [E.01.004 (1), FDR].

Additional Information

For more information about sweeteners, please visit the following links:

Definitions

Cyclamate Sweetener

"Cyclamate Sweetener" means a cyclohexyl sulfamic acid, a salt thereof, any substance containing cyclohexyl acid or salt thereof that is sold as a sweetener [E.01.001, FDR].

Non-nutritive Sweeteners

"Non-nutritive sweeteners" also called high intensity sweeteners, do not provide calories or influence blood sugar levels. As these compounds are significantly sweeter than table sugar, their energy contribution is negligible. Examples of non-nutritive sweeteners include: cyclamate, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, neotame and stevia.

Sugar Alcohols

"Sugar Alcohols" (also known as polyols) are food additives that are used as sweeteners and texturizing/bulking agents in foods. Examples of sugar alcohols include isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol, erythritol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

Sweetener

"Sweetener" means a food additive that is used to impart a sweet taste to food [Ref: Marketing Authorization for Food Additives that May Be Used as Sweeteners]. Examples of food additives that may be used as sweeteners include aspartame, maltitol and sorbitol.

Sweetening Agent

"Sweetening Agent" includes any food for which a standard is provided in Division 18, but does not include those food additives listed in the tables to Division 16 [B.01.001, FDR]. Examples of sweetening agents include white and brown table sugar, molasses and honey.

Date modified: