NEW SWEETENER TO CHALLENGE ASPARTAME IN CENTER STORE

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Sucralose, a new, patented, no-calorie artificial sweetener that is derived from sugar, is expected to sweeten the sales of several key Center Store categories.The sweetener is opening new doors for diabetics and others watching their sugar intake. Marketed under the brand name Splenda, sucralose is manufactured by the McNeil Specialty Products Co. division of Johnson & Johnson

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Sucralose, a new, patented, no-calorie artificial sweetener that is derived from sugar, is expected to sweeten the sales of several key Center Store categories.

The sweetener is opening new doors for diabetics and others watching their sugar intake. Marketed under the brand name Splenda, sucralose is manufactured by the McNeil Specialty Products Co. division of Johnson & Johnson here. It was granted Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this month for use in 15 food and beverage categories, including baked goods and baking mixes; soft drinks, fruit juices and other beverages; processed fruits; and dairy products. McNeil also plans to introduce a tabletop granular form of Splenda in the near future.

Because sucralose is derived from sugar, it has no unpleasant aftertaste. It actually tastes like sugar, and it keeps its sweet taste over time and when exposed to high temperatures, such as in processing and pasteurization.

McNeil has especially high hopes for sucralose in the diet soft- drink industry, where it is expected to go head-to-head with aspartame, which is marketed under the brand name NutraSweet. Royal Crown Cola has announced it is converting its Diet RC Cola to a sucralose formulation and Veryfine Products said it would introduce a line of diet juice products under the Diet Veryfine name by the end of this month.

Sucralose is made under a patented process that substitutes three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule.