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Summaries of EU Legislation

Authorised sweeteners

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Authorised sweeteners

The legislation stipulates the sweeteners which may be used in foodstuffs and their conditions of use. The list of authorised sweeteners (in the Annex to the Directive) is updated regularly according to the latest scientific advances in the field.


European Parliament and Council Directive 94/35/EC of 30 June 1994 on sweeteners intended for use in foodstuffs [see Amending acts].


This Directive is a specific Directive arising from the framework Directive 89/107/EEC on food additives. It applies to food additives used to impart a sweet taste to foodstuffs, together with those for a particular nutritional use or for use as table-top sweeteners. It does not apply to foodstuffs with sweetening properties, such as honey.

Sweeteners are used to replace sugar in the production of energy-reduced foodstuffs, non-cariogenic foodstuffs or food without added sugars, for the extension of shelf life, as well as for the preparation of dietetic products.

Different sweeteners which may be placed on the market as well as their conditions of use in foodstuffs are specified in the Annex. The doses specified refer to ready-to-eat foodstuffs only.

Sweeteners cannot be used in foods for infants and young children mentioned in Directive 89/398/EEC, including foods for infants and young children who are not in good health, except if provided otherwise.

Member States are required to establish a system of regular surveys to monitor sweetener consumption. On the basis of this information, the conditions of use of sweeteners as laid down in this Directive may, if necessary, be amended.

Labelling of table sweeteners containing polyols and/or aspartame must bear the following warnings:

  • polyols: ‘over-consumption may have laxative effects’;
  • aspartame: ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’;
  • aspartame-acesulfame salt: ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’.

Sweeteners authorised by Community regulations must comply with the specific purity criteria defined by Directive 2008/60/EC.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 94/35/EC


31.12.1995: authorisation of trade in and use of products conforming to the Directive30.6.1996: prohibition of trade in and use of products not conforming to the Directive

OJ L 237 of 10.9.1994

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 96/83/EC


19.12.1997: authorisation of trade in products conforming to the Directive19.6.1998: prohibition of trade in products not conforming to the Directive

OJ L 48 of 19.2.1997

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003



OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2003/115/EC


29.7.200529.01.2006 (Products marketed before the Directive came into force)

OJ L 24 of 29.1.2004

Directive 2006/52/EC



OJ L 204 of 26.7.2006


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 July 2006 on food additives [COM(2006) 428 final — Not published in the Official Journal].

The proposed Regulation will harmonise in a Community list all the authorised additives added to foodstuffs, including sweeteners and colours. The proposed Regulation will repeal all the provisions in force concerning additives.

Codecision procedure (COD/2006/0145)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 July 2006 establishing a common authorisation procedure for food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings [ COM(2006) 423 — Not published in the Official Journal]. Requests for the authorisation of additives will be incorporated into a harmonised authorisation procedure for additives, enzymes and flavourings.

In order to authorise a new additive or renew an existing authorisation, the evaluation must show that the product is safe, technologically necessary, provides benefits to consumers and is not misleading as to its use.

The European Food Safety Authority will carry out a risk assessment for new authorisation requests.

The Commission will be assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain when granting new authorisations for the placing on the market of food additives, food enzymes and flavourings.

Codecision procedure (COD/2006/0143)

Specific purity criteria

Directive 2008/60/EC [Official Journal L 158 of 18.6.2008] (specific criteria of purity concerning sweeteners for use in foodstuffs).


Directive 96/21/EC [Official Journal L 88 of 05.04.1996]. Council Directive of 29 March 1996 amending Commission Directive 94/54/EC concerning the compulsory indication on the labelling of certain foodstuffs of particulars other than those provided for in Council Directive 79/112/EEC.

This Directive requires food labels to include relevant information on the sweeteners contained in foodstuffs. It also stipulates that warnings should appear on the labels of foodstuffs containing aspartame or polyols.

Directive 2008/5/EC [Official Journal L 27 of 31.1.2008]. Other compulsory indications apart from those provided for in Directive 2000/13/EC must be shown on the labels of certain foodstuffs (for example: ‘packaged in a protective atmosphere’, ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’, ‘contains liquorice’, etc.) in order to better inform the consumer.

Last updated: 17.09.2008