Sugar substitute a wheaty pill to swallow

Added on 18 Mar, 2006 . There are .

So Canadian news reported that a scientist at the University of Alberta has discovered a way to turn the dregs from brewing beer into a sweetener. Using the grain waste left over, which is often sold as cheap animal feed, the process can now create xylitol, a sugar substitute.

Now scientists are getting excited that this new discovery will have environmental benefits as well as financial ones. But what about the health ones?

Making a sugar substitute from wheat or barley sucks. What about all the people with wheat or gluten allergies?

Presumably it means that manufacturers in the US would be forced to state, as a result of FALCPA 2004, that any sweeteners using xylitol are wheat or barley based.

But in the rest of the world where FALCPA 2004 does not have any meaning, and manufacturers are not required to disclose allergens in their products, it means that selecting foods safe to eat will always have that element of Russian roulette if xylitol is an ingredient.

There are companies that already manufacture xylitol, but from corn, and now wheat & barley are able to be added as a base for the process. Don't we already have enough sweetener in the world? Aren't dieticians, dentists and nutritionists constantly saying that we must cut down on sweet foods? Aren't we dependent enough on sweet stuff? Isn't obesity already a big enough issue?

Whilst I applaud any efforts to recycle waste products, and to improve the environmental impacts that waste products have on our earth. Using known food allergens to create food substitutes is not only messing with our food chain, it's also downright irresponsible with regard to people with food allergies.