Dolcia Prima (the brand name) allulose has 70% of the sweetness of table sugar, but 90% fewer calories (it’s absorbed by the body, but not metabolized), and works well in combination with high intensity sweeteners such as stevia and sucralose.
As it has the texture and bulk of regular sugar, it can be used to reduce or replace it in everything from beverages, yogurt and ice cream to baked products, candies, salad dressings, gum, cereals and sugar substitutes, Abigail Storms, VP, Platform Management, Sweeteners, told FoodNavigator-USA.
It also browns during baking, depresses the freezing point when making frozen products, and is a highly-soluble, liquid ingredient, which means it is easy to use in liquid products, she added.
“It has the same temporal taste profile [as regular sugar], which means it provides a clean, sweet taste as well as the functionality of sugar. In fact, products made with Dolcia Prima ranked at parity with full-calorie full-sugar versions in preference taste tests across a variety of foods. We believe this will change the food and beverage landscape forever."
Tate & Lyle is the first producer of commercial scale allulose in the United States
So what is its regulatory status?
Allulose (also known as D- Psicose) is not permitted in Europe, but has GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the US.
Asked if Tate & Lyle had any serious competition, given that two other companies – Matsutani and CJ Cheiljedang - have both received no objections letters from the FDA over their GRAS determinations for allulose, she said: “We don’t have a relationship with those companies so we can’t speak to their production of allulose.”
But she added: “There are no other companies producing allulose commercially. This further validates the ground breaking nature of Dolcia Prima allulose from Tate & Lyle, as the first producers of commercial scale allulose in the United States.”
We agree that natural is an area where there’s a high level of discussion
So would consumers – and plaintiff’s attorney in California - consider Dolcia Prima allulose to be ‘natural’?
Said Storms: “We agree that natural is an area where there’s a high level of discussion. We provide our customers with all the necessary information on the ingredient and the process and they themselves determine the type of claims they want to make about the finished products they manufacture. Allulose is one of many sugars that exists in nature.”
And the details of the proprietary production process?
“The simple way of explaining the process is that we take the carbohydrate from corn and then go through an enzymatic conversion process to produce allulose,” said Storms. “Our carbohydrate source is corn, which enables cost effectiveness and scale. In addition to corn, different sources of carbohydrate could be used such as sucrose from sugar cane or beets.”
Allulose Syrup is not non-GMO
And what about those concerned about GMOs, given that most corn in the US is genetically engineered?
She added: “Allulose syrup is not non-GMO but it enables manufacturers to cut calories while maintaining the satisfying taste experience and enjoyment of sugar.”
Asked if Tate & Lyle had conducted any research on how consumers might respond to allulose on food labels , she said: “We’ve done a lot of consumer research in this area and found that allulose - although an unknown ingredient to date - seems familiar to consumers in the US.
“The –ose ending helps associate it with sugars and given that it’s a sugar it helps with the recognition. We’ve also extensively tested the concept of a 'low calorie sugar' and the 'best of both worlds' – a sugar without all of the calories."
Asked about the cost, she said: “Food and beverage manufacturers can get in touch with our sales team to discuss pricing.”
Food scientist: It does taste like regular sugar
So what do food formulation experts think?
Kantha Shelke, PhD, principal at food science and research firm Corvus Blue LLC, told FoodNavigator-USA that she had tasted allulose a year ago and added: “It does taste like regular sugar.”
But she added: “Its use alone as a table sugar substitute may have some limitations due to cost. Digestive tolerance is another important effect to consider. Without long-term studies on the physiological effects of allulose in the human diet, it begs the question if the food marketplace is being used as a testing laboratory for this product."
As to what consumers would make of allulose on a food label, she said, the jury was out: “It all depends upon their view of strange or unfamiliar ingredients.”
Allulose is very low in calories, but still counts as ‘sugar’ on the Nutrition Facts panel
Alex Woo, Ph.D. chief executive at consultancy W2O Food Innovation and an expert on sweeteners, told FoodNavigator-USA that this was an exciting development for the food industry given the pressure to reduce sugar and calories, but he also queried whether the ingredient's name was consumer-friendly, adding: “I'd say ’ose’ is more of an organic chemistry term than a consumer term.”
One possibly frustrating factor for manufacturers of allulose was that while it is ultra-low-calorie, it is still technically a sugar, which means that it counts towards the sugar grams on the Nutrition Facts panel, he said.
And if – as the FDA has proposed – manufacturers will in future have to list 'added sugars' on the Nutrition Facts panel, you could get a confusing scenario whereby you could have a product that is very low in calories thanks to allulose, but still has several grams of ‘added sugar’ on the label, he said.
Ultimately, a lot would come down to price, he said. “It would need to be on a parity with erythritol or lower.”
Tate & Lyle: Consumers are extremely unlikely to over-consume allulose over the course of a day
Asked to respond to concerns over digestive comfort, Dr. Michael Harrison, SVP, New Product Development at Tate & Lyle told us: "Food and beverage manufacturers are guided by the FDA to formulate only at the allowed levels across a number of categories.
"This means that consumers are extremely unlikely to over-consume allulose over the course of a day. Therefore, the answer to avoiding digestive discomfort is common sense moderation."
As for labeling, he said: "We are giving our customers guidance on including information on allulose on labels, which will help consumers better understand the calorie reduction from Dolcia Prima compared with caloric sugars.
"We are also working with health professionals to educate consumers on label reading and the overall benefits of the ingredient. Thanks to our partnership with the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), we are in the process of developing an app to scan product labels, to improve the nutritional understanding further for products incorporating allulose.”