‘Keto-Fructose’ sweetener developed for consumers following ketogenic diet

By Augustus Bambridge-Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

The sweetener aims at consumers following ketogenic diets. Image Souce: Fooditive Group
The sweetener aims at consumers following ketogenic diets. Image Souce: Fooditive Group

Related tags Sweetener keto diet ketogenic sugar reduction

With its low-calorie and low-carb profile, a new sweetener developed in the Netherlands is targeting a very particular segment of consumers.

A new sweetener is launching. Dutch ingredients start-up Fooditive Group, who have previously developed bee-free honey​, low sodium salt​ and vegan casein​, is launching Keto-Fructose, a sweetener initially intended for the US market but with the potential to reach Europe.

Currently undergoing FDA GRAS assessment in the US, the sweetener is derived from apples and pears (perfect for fans of cockney rhyming slang) through fermentation. It is also aimed at consumers following a ketogenic diet.

“Derived from apples and pears, Keto-Fructose is a natural monosaccharide sweetener. We utilise a wild natural strain to convert the fructose into 5-D-Keto-Fructose, a form that's more easily absorbed and utilised by the body. It's also non-GMO, allergen-free, and non-cariogenic, making it suitable for a wide range of dietary needs,” Moayad Abushokhedim, Fooditive Group’s CEO, told FoodNavigator.

“Additionally, Keto-Fructose enhances the texture, stability, and shelf-life of various food products, making it a valuable asset for manufacturers and consumers alike.”

The sweetener has so far been tested in a range of product categories, including frozen desserts, beverages (which include soft drinks), confectionary, cereals, baked goods and dairy products.

How is the sweetener made?

The sweetener is made through a multi-stage process, Abushokhedim told us. "Fooditive's sweetener production begins by extracting fructose, a natural sugar, from apples and pears. This fructose is then transformed through a natural bioconversion process, where a carefully selected, wild-type bacterial strain acts as a catalyst. This strain converts the fructose into 5-D-Keto-Fructose (also known as Keto-Fructose).

"After our fermentation stage, the resulting Keto-Fructose we assure the product goes into purification and filtration to remove any impurities, to assure a clear, high-quality sweetener. This purified Keto-Fructose is then carefully processed to be delivered either in crystallized form or as a liquid sweetener."

What makes the sweetener different from other sweeteners?

The most prominent part of the sweetener’s sales pitch is its focus on appealing to those who are following ketogenic diets.

“It delivers the satisfying sweetness and functionality you expect from sugar, but with a significantly reduced calorie content – approximately 1.5 kcal per gram. This makes it an excellent choice for health-conscious consumers and those following low-carb or ketogenic diets,” Abushokhedim told us.

Could keto delay Alzheimer's?

Recent research suggests​ that following a ketogenic diet could potentially combat early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that the molecule beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which increases sevenfold on a ketogenic diet, plays a significant role in preventing memory loss. However, it is only a delay, not a cure, for Alzheimer’s.

“The name ‘Keto-Fructose’ serves a dual purpose. First, it aligns with the scientific terminology of 5-D-Keto-Fructose, reflecting its unique molecular structure. Second, it resonates with consumers following ketogenic diets, as the product's low-calorie and low-carb profile makes it an ideal fit for this lifestyle.”

Keto-Fructose differs from its fellow sweeteners in a number of other ways as well. Firstly, it uses monosaccharides, a simpler form of sugar that, according to Abushokhedim, allows for easier absorption into the body than polysaccharides, which are used by many other sweeteners.

Furthermore, Abushokhedim suggested, the diversity of the sweetener differentiates it from other, similar sweeteners. “It's available in various forms – colourless crystals, white crystalline powder, or clear liquid syrup – providing flexibility for diverse food manufacturing needs,” he told FoodNavigator.

How does Fooditive Group reduce the risk of negative health affects?

Several negative stories about artificial sweeteners have recently come to light. The sweetener xylitol​, for example, has come under fire since research has linked it to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, while the sweetener saccharin​ has been linked to premature death in India.

Fooditive Group is keen to reduce the risk of such negative health affects as much as possible, as well as to satisfy the demands of regulators. “Initial toxicology studies on Keto-Fructose have demonstrated its safety. However, to meet FDA and EFSA requirements for market approval – specifically, an FDA no-objection letter or EFSA novel food application – further animal testing is currently necessary. While we firmly oppose animal testing and actively advocate for alternatives, we must comply with these regulations to ensure Keto-Fructose reaches consumers who can benefit from it.”

Do sweeteners increase hunger?

A recent study​ found that consumption of foods containing artificial sweeteners do not increase appetite. This study was ‘at odds’ with previous studies on the same subject.

What is the future of the sweetener?

While the sweetener is initially poised for release on the US market, Fooditive Group intends to eventually expand to the European market as well. 

“As a Dutch company and a start-up, our aim is to make Keto-Fructose a global offering. While we anticipate success in the US, our priority has always been to meet European regulatory requirements and bring this innovative sweetener to our home market,” Abushokhedim told us.

The company is aiming for the US market first because of the particular challenges associated with novel food approval in Europe, as well as the long wait for animal testing results.

“This strategic approach allows us to build momentum and resources while we continue to navigate the European regulatory landscape.”

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