Canada Approves Monk Fruit Sweetener for Tabletop

Monk fruit extract will now be added to Canada’s List of Permitted Sweeteners.

Health Canada in March approved monk fruit extract (Siraitia grosvenorii), or luo han guo, at a maximum level of 0.8%-calculated as chemical compound mogroside V-in tabletop sweeteners. Monk fruit extract will now be added to Canada’s List of Permitted Sweeteners.

The approval follows a detailed safety assessment performed on monk fruit by Health Canada.

Health Canada’s Food Directorate is now accepting public comments on its intention to approve the sweetener. Comments can be submitted on the Health Canada website until May 27, 2013.

“No microbiological or nutritional safety concerns have been identified for monk fruit extract when used as proposed, and there are no reports indicating a potential association between the ingestion of monk fruit extract and allergies, despite a long history of use in other countries, particularly in dietary supplements,” Health Canada stated.

It said monk fruit’s safety was demonstrated in metabolism studies, acute and short-term oral toxicity studies, and genetic toxicity studies. Studies also looked at the effects of monk fruit extract on diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.

Additionally, Health Canada said, “Studies were assessed on the stability of monk fruit extract itself and as a component of a tabletop sweetener under various storage temperatures, heat-treatment temperatures, and a range of pH levels. These studies confirm the stability of the sweetening components of the extract.”

Monk fruit is approved as a sweetener in the United States but has not yet been approved as a food additive in Australia and New Zealand nor in the European Union.

“We are pleased that Health Canada has allowed use of monk fruit as a natural sweetener,” says Chris Tower, president of monk fruit supplier Layn USA Inc. (Newport Beach, CA). “It serves to further validate the regulatory work Layn has carried out over a 10-year period in substantiating the safety and effectiveness of monk fruit extracts, as evidenced in Layn’s pivotal GRAS affirmation [in the United States].” The company notes the growing demand for monk fruit as a natural sweetener alternative.

As Nutritional Outlook reported in recent months, big marketers such as Splenda and In the Raw have put monk fruit sweeteners on the U.S. market.