The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), on August 8, notified two sugar substitutes that can be used in blended form in soft drinks: acesulfame potassium or Acesulfame K and sucralose sold as Splenda.
This is the second combination to be allowed as di-blend that combines two additives to achieve the sweetness level and aftertaste of sugar. The first was Acesulfame K and Aspartame, found in Diet Coke. At present, four additives are permitted individually, Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Splenda and Saccharine.
But there is not enough research to prove artificial sweeteners are safe. Only Aspartame has been widely studied and is a known carcinogen; effects of Acesulfame K and Splenda and their di-blends are yet to be ascertained through rigorous toxicity tests.
FSSAI claimed the safety of the di-blend has been ascertained. It notified the new di-blend by amending the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) of 1954. The notification highlights the ad-hoc manner in which the FSSAI is regulating the food sector. The existing food regulations, including the PFA, were to be repealed once the rules under the new law were notified. The rules have not been notified in five years. So while FSSAI draws its mandate from the new act, it continues to rely on PFA to frame regulations. FSSAI officials refused to comment on this.