Aspertame




Aspartame
Chemical name:L-phenylalanine,1-methyl ester
Chemical formula:C14H18N2O5
Molecular mass:294.301 g/mol


Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in the world.Aspartame was discovered in the Winter of 1965 when James Schlatter was recrystalling aspartame from ethanol when he accidently spilled some of the aspartame onto his hand. Later while licking his fingers when picking up a piece of paper he discovered a sweet taste. Aspartame is low in calories and has a sweet taste similar to sugar, but the difference is that aspartame is approximately 180-200 sweeter than sucrose and also has a sweet aftertaste. Furthermore because these unique characteristics aspartame is used in many products ranging from chewing gum to sugar free ketchup. But aspartame isn't perfect as it cannot withstand high temperatures and when submerged in liquids for long periods of time, because it tends to lose sweetness. But even with these drawbacks it has been used in over 6000 products and enjoyed by over 200 million people around the world.

How aspartame is produced
Aspartame is comprised of three components methanol, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Most manufacturers seperate the making of aspartame into two main processes, fermentation and synthesis.
Fermentation is the step needed to create the needed amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine before the reaction takes place. Firstly specific types of bacteria which produce these acids are raised in conditions that encourage their growth. They start off in test tubes and are later put into a seed tanks, when the number of bacteria reach a certain point they are then transferred to a seed tank. The seed tank contains warm water and carbohydrate foods, furthermore the tank is hooked up to a pump which sends in compressed air. Here in the seed tank all of the bacteria's needs are met and the bacteria reproduce at a larger rate. Afterwards when there is enough bacteria present they are then moved to the fermentation tank, which is basically a larger seed tank. When the amount of amino acid is met the contents are seperated by centrifugal seperators that seperates unwanted solids from the amino acids. From here they are further purified in an ion-exchange column and later pumped into a crystallizing tank where they are prepared for the synthesis process.

The first stages of the synthesis process phenylalanine is reacted with methanol thus creating L-phenylalanine methyl ester. Aspartic acid is also reacted with certain compounds that give it several benzyl rings in desired places, because these rings proctect certain spots from undergoing further chemical reactions. Afterwards they are pumped into a reactor tank where they're mixed for a 24 hour period, and then the temperature is then increased to 149 degrees fahrenheit and stays in there for another 24 hour period. After this phase the mixture is diluted and cooled down, thus causing crystallization. The newly formed crystals are isolated and are then mixed with acetic acid for around 12 hours; catalysts such as palladium metal catalyst and hydrogen are added to speed up the process. The metal catalyst is then removed , and the mixture is distilled. This leaves a solid substance which is purified by dissolving it in a ethanol solution. Shortly after the substance is recrystallizeexternal image Aspartame.jpgd and dried to create the powdered aspartame we use.
How aspartame benefits affects us
-Has a similar sweet taste that resembles sugar, but does not promote tooth decay.
-It also provides individuals diagnosed with diabetes a good sugar substitute.
-Aspartame is approximately 180-200 times sweeter then sugar, thus very little aspartame is used in the food we eat which allows people who're on a diet to intake less calories.


How aspartame harms us
-Aspartame is not beneficial to infants and young children because the calorie intake isn't enough to promote growth, which is essential for children in that age area.
-Aspartame is also highly dangerous to those who have phenylketonuria because this inherited disease restricts the phenylalanine component of aspartame to be metabolized. If an individual diagnosed with phenylketonuria were to consume aspartame it could lead to serious health problems or mental retardation.

Interesting facts
-Even though from what is described above there have been many controveries about aspartame. Some sources say that aspartame is closely related with cancer and many other negative side effects. But no scientific research has shown any relation between aspertame and cancer.
-Aspartame is one of the most extensively studied food products in the world with over 200 scientific reports stating aspartame is safe.
-Aspartame is composed of two amino acids found in protein, which are phenylalanine and aspartic acid.
-Aspartame is the sugar replacement in many diet sodas.


List of foods containing aspartame

  • Carbonated Soft Drinks
  • Cereals
  • Chewing Gum
  • Flavored Syrups for Coffee
  • Flavored Water Products
  • Frozen Ice
  • Frozen Ice Cream Novelties
  • Fruit Spreads
  • Gelatin, Sugar Free
  • Hard Candies
  • Ice cream Toppings
  • Ice Creams, No Sugar Added or Sugar Free
  • Iced Tea, Powder
  • Iced Tea, Ready to Drink
  • Instant Cocoa Mix
  • Jams & Jellies
  • Juice Blends
  • Juice Drinks
  • Maple Syrups
  • Meal Replacements
  • Mousse
  • No Sugar Added Pies
  • Non-Carbonated Diet Soft drinks
  • Nutritional Bars
  • Powdered Soft Drinks
  • Protein Nutritional Drinks
  • Pudding
  • Soft Candy Chews
  • Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup
  • Sugar Free Cookies
  • Sugar Free Ketchup
  • Table Top Sweeteners
  • Vegetable Drinks
  • Yogurt, Drinkable

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Sources
http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/aspartame

http://www.wnho.net/history_of_aspartame.htm
http://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/science_of_cooking/aspartame.
http://www.aspartame.org/aspartame_facts_brochure.html
http://www.chemindustry.com/chemicals/01529600.html
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/sweeten-edulcor/aspartame-eng.php
http://www.aspartame.net/index.asp
http://www.nutrasweet.com/imgdoc/3b.jpg

Curtis Chao
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