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LC/MS analysis of sweeteners in energy drinks

Aspartame the artificial sweetener often found in energy drinks, no calorie sodas, and many other diet foods. This sugar alternative has been controversial and for a long time was classified as harmful to health, specifically carcinogenic. So, can enjoying a sugar free energy drink give you more than wings?

Following in-depth risk assessment studies by institutions such as the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority)(1) and the U.S. FDA(2-4), a connection between the consumption of aspartame and an increased risk of cancer could not be proven in humans. The human metabolism degrades aspartame into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. These degradation products are deemed safe up to certain quantities and are found in many other foods. In the case of aspartame, 40–50 mg/kg body weight is considered safe(5-6). This corresponds to the consumption of 4 liters of a diet soft drink daily. With FDA and EFSA clearance the view of the potential hazards of aspartame and related compounds has changed. It is important to note that people suffering from the metabolic disease phenylketonuria are prohibited from consuming aspartame and other phenylalanine-containing foods.
The following image shows the chemical structure of aspartame next to acesulfame, a heterocycle with an oxathiazine backbone. Both sweeteners are often used in combination in dietary products.

Acesulfame potassium and Aspartame Structural Formula

The analysis of these sweeteners can be performed by LC/MS. The HPLC separation column used is the polar endcapped C18 phase NUCLEOSHELL Bluebird RP 18 synthesized on a high performance core-shell silica gel.

Access to application: Analysis of sweeteners in an energy drink on core-shell phase by LC-MS/MS

(1) "Aspartame". EFSA. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
(2) "CFR – Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 172: Food additives permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption. Subpart I – Multipurpose Additives; Sec. 172.804 Aspartame". US Food and Drug Administration. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2019
(3) Henkel J (November–December 1999). Sugar substitutes. Americans opt for sweetness and lite. FDA Consumer. 33. Diane Publishing. pp. 12–16. ISBN 978-1-4223-2690-9. PMID 10628311. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016.
(4) "Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for use in Food in the United States". FDA. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 8 February 2018. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
(5) Renwick AG (April 2006). "The intake of intense sweeteners – an update review". Food Additives and Contaminants. 23 (4): 327-328.
(6) "Aspartame and Cancer: Questions and Answers". National Cancer Institute. 12 September 2006. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2011.