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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

More yellow stuff   (October 11, 2009)

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a new category of sweeteners I called the "green stuff." At that time, I was under the impression that the yellow stuff, Splenda (sucralose), was available only under the one name-brand. But I was wrong.

On a recent shopping expedition, my wife Steph mentioned that she saw several brands of sucralose available on the shelves of the local supermarket. Several questions immediately come to mind:

* Do the other brands of sucralose contain the same stuff as Splenda?
* Do they taste the same as Splenda?
* Are they cheaper than Spenda?

Well, first a websearch. I found the following:

Splenda is sold by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC in the USA and Canada.

Tate & Lyle, based in the UK, also sells Splenda brand of sucralose, but from their websites, it's difficult to identify in which countries they have the rights to the Splenda name.

Fusion Nutraceuticals, based in Ireland, has a brand called SucraPLUS "available on the shelves of major supermarkets by summer 2009." According to their website, they produce a sugar cube product for the European market, with the same sweetness as a sugar cube but half the calories, and for the North American market, they will have 1g packet with the same sweetness as 2 teaspoons of sugar. They apparently have been making "private label" versions of sucralose also.

A company named Irbis, based in the Czech Republic, sells a brand they call Cukren, which is available as tablets and powder; there's no mention of packets nor of availability in the US.

One or more companies in China also manufacture sucralose. Apparently, the majority of Chinese sucralose output is exported, and the recent availability of Chinese sucralose in the global market has led to a subsequent fall in the price of sucralose in the past two to three years.

On to the supermarket!

In the local chain supermarket today, I found four brands of sucralose-containing sweetener, all listing the same ingredients in the same order (dextrose, maltodextrin, and sucralose), and all with the same caloric content (listed alphabetically):

* NatraTaste Gold,, from the Stadt Holdings Corporation in New York, is $3.49 per 100 packets.
* Nevella,, from Heartland Sweeteners in Indiana is $4.79 per 100 packets.
* ShopRite Sugar Substitute Sucralose (no indication where it originated) is $3.49 per 100 packets.
* Splenda,, made by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, is $4.99 per 100 packets.

I splurged for a box of each of the three that I didn't already have, and compared them to Splenda. First, as I mentioned before, they all have the same ingredients in the same order. Second, their packets are all yellow. But they don't look the same (see picture): the NatraTaste Gold version was clumped, whereas the others were mini-granules; the Splenda brand seemed to have the smallest of the mini-granules. I tried contacting the 800 number for NatraTaste Gold about the clumping, but they were closed for the weekend; I'll see what they have to say tomorrow...


(A full-sized photo is available elsewhere).

Most importantly, to my tastebuds, one of the four (the house brand from ShopRite) seemed to have a very slightly different flavor. And the apparent sweetness of the other three was perhaps very slightly different one from another, but that was perhaps influenced by the order that I chose to sample them, as I didn't do a blind taste test. The taste for any of the four wasn't different enough for me to try to choose one as "best" or "worst." In fact, I swept all four powders from the plate in my photograph into my coffee cup for sweetening tomorrow morning's first cup of joe.

All in all, the pricing of the products is the biggest difference, to my way of thinking. Unsurprising, the first company to promote the product (brand name Splenda) is presently maintaining the highest price, and the prices of the new kids vary from one brand to the next. The two cheapest ones each had something that made them distinctive: the clumping for one and the slightly different taste for the other.

If you have been using the yellow stuff, you now have a choice of brands. Try a few of them, and see if you end up making the same decision I did, to use whichever is cheapest.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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