Thaumatin (also known as E957 in the European Union) is a food additive, acting as a flavor enhancer and sweetener, it is a natural product extracted from the husks of katemfe fruit’s seeds, growing in the Thaumatococcus daniellii bush, in West Africa.
The fruit contains 1-3 black seeds surrounded by a gel and capped with a membranous sac, the aril, which contains the sweet material.
It is, in fact, a compound of proteins which are formed in the fruit when it suffers from an attack by pests. These fruits were used by local people as a flavor and flavor enhancer and less as a sweetener.
E957 extraction began in 1970 and during the next two decades, there have been many studies on its properties and qualities. It is purified by selective ultrafiltration, but small amounts of organic non-protein impurities remain in the commercial product.
As a sweetener, it is 2000 times sweeter than sugar, but its sweetness has a different taste, is not immediately perceived and has a very long persistence. For instance, in some citrus fruit products, this sweetener has been shown to be useful in masking the bitter elements of natural flavors from the fruit. Therefore, it is used in numerous products such as yogurts, juices, and other deserts.
Bacteria in the mouth can not break it down, so it doesn’t affect teeth. It is very stable at high temperatures (hence, is suitable for processed foods and for cooking) and acidity and has no calories. It is used in amounts of 50 mg/kg in confectionery containing cocoa or fruit without added sugar, and in amounts of 400 mg/kg in dietary supplements based on vitamins or minerals.
In addition, it is also used in small quantities as a flavor enhancer in water-based flavored drinks and various desserts. To adjust taste, it is combined with other sweeteners.
The sweetener is used in amounts of 50 mg/kg in confectionery containing cocoa or fruit without added sugar, and in amounts of 400 mg/kg in dietary supplements based on vitamins or minerals. It is also used in small quantities as a flavor enhancer in water-based flavored drinks and various desserts. To adjust taste, it is combined with other sweeteners.
Thaumatin Sweetener Precautions And Side Effects
In the US, this sweetener has GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status as a flavor enhancer and as a sweetener.
The daily dose is not limited and the quantities from foods don’t usually cause side effects. However, there are some people who are allergic to E957. This additive is not allowed in foods for infants and young children.
Moreover, according to some studies, artificial sweeteners actually cause type 2 diabetes Mellitus, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and strokes. For these reasons, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association give artificial sweeteners a cautious thumbs-up.
More importantly, data from the Nurses’ Health Study concluded that risk for diabetes was considerably amplified for individuals consuming at least one drink with artificial sweeteners per day.
There are countries, such as United States, Japan, Israel and the European Union, that have approved it as a high-intensity sweetener and flavor enhancer.
Artificial sweeteners have some bad and some good properties, however, you should have the facts to make an informed decision about which (if any) you might want to consume.