Isomalt is derived from pure sugar-beet, and is said to be a low glycaemic (low GI), reduced calorie, tooth-friendly alternative to sugar. It is slightly less sweet than sugar and can be adapted to suit specific taste profile needs.
It has previously been approved for use in India in chewing gum, chocolate and confectionery products. The extended approval opens up a raft of new opportunities for food manufacturers targeting the healthy foods market in the country.
Products in which it can now be used include traditional sweets like Jalwa, Mysore Pak and Boondi Ladoo, as well as instant sweetmeal mixes, bakery goods, jams, jellies and marmalades, ice cream, frozen desserts and yoghurts.
The low-GI attribute is expected to be especially interesting because low GI foods do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which is a vital issue for diabetics. According to the World Health Organisation, diabetes is a major problem in India, with 31.7 million cases – 19 per cent of cases worldwide.
The new approval follows a complex cooperation process between the Beneo Institute and the Indian authorities.
Anke Sentko, Vice-President regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at Beneo said: “Within the BENEO-Institute, we have worked alongside the Ministry of Health in India, their Committee experts, the Nutrition Institute and Food technology experts to ensure that all necessary information was available to make an informed decision on Isomalt.”
A crucial piece of evidence was a 12 week human intervention study looking at blood glucose parameters. Participants with type 2 diabetes took 30g a day and were seen to significantly reduce their glycaemic load and improve metabolic control without making any other changes to their diet.
India is a fast emerging economy, and as consumers have higher earnings and spending power they tend to hanker after more Western-style diets, including greater amounts of meat and dairy products. This change has been dubbed the ‘nutrition transition’.
However dietary experts have noted that as consumers turn away from traditional foods towards foods associated with prosperity, their risk of obesity and lifestyle-related disease tends to increase. For this reason, finding healthier ways of producing both Western-style and traditional foods can be helpful.