CIFTI-FICCI and Food Industry Asia will jointly host a seminar on Sweeteners- Innovative Ingredients for a Better Health in Bengaluru on March 14, 2019.

According to the organisers, consumers are concerned about the consumption of the sugar. Sugar has overtaken fat as the latest food villain, and brands are taking consumers’ growing concerns about sugar very seriously.

Consumer pressure notwithstanding, the government and health departments continue to drive the food industry to play their parts in encouraging consumers towards healthier eating habits.

With the growing rate of obesity and diabetes reaching epidemic proportions, low-calorie sweeteners can be a useful solution and provide important health benefits, while allowing people to enjoy sweetness with practically no calories.

Also, with the approaching policy pressures to address the overconsumption of sugar, linked with the rising epidemic of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the food industry has been working to deliver solutions through healthier product innovation and reformulation particularly around reducing the sugar content in food and beverage products.

The reduction in the level of sugar is going beyond just taking the sugar out, as it contributes to other functional roles besides influencing taste.

To address this, low-nutritive calorie sweeteners (LNCSs) are playing vital role by contributing to sweet taste with few or no calories. Being amongst the most thoroughly researched ingredients worldwide, with scientific studies and food safety authorities consistently confirming their safety, low-calorie sweeteners can be used in place of sugar as part of a balanced diet.

However, the reputation of low/non-calorie sweeteners (LNCSs) has been constantly challenged with alleged associations for causing weight gain and cancers, in spite of current scientific findings suggesting otherwise. This negative narrative is mainly influenced by misinformation and pseudo- science.

This seminar will focus on creating awareness among the stakeholders; debunking the myths associated with it and its impact on diet and health and way forward from a public health perspective in curbing NCDs.

The event will be addressed by Abhinav Singh, deputy director, CIFTI-FICCI; Steven Bartholomeusz, policy director, Food Industry Asia, and Richa Mattu, head, nutrition, South Asia, HUL.

The seminar will kick off with a peek into the World of Sweeteners – Understanding Low/Non-Calorie Sweeteners by Mattu. This will be followed by Bartholomeusz, whose presentation will be on Reformulating with Low/Non-Calorie Sweeteners – Debunking the Bad Science.

There will be a panel discussion titled Substitution of sugar with Low/Non-Calorie Sweeteners : Way Forward from Public Health Perspective in curbing NCDs. The panellists will be V Sudarshan Rao, chairperson, FSSAI Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing aids and Materials in contact with Food, and former Scientist E and Deputy Director, NIN (National Institute of Nutrition), Hyderabad; K N Gurudutt, former head, food safety and analytical quality control laboratory, CFTRI, and Krishna Kumar Joshi, head, regulatory affairs, ITC Limited – Foods Division.