What it is: A chemical cousin of aspartame and neotame that is 20,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014.
Safety: Two key safety studies on advantame were flawed. However, because the additive is so sweet, the minuscule amounts that will be added to foods are almost certainly safe.
Among its brand names: Newtame.
What it is: A chemical cousin of aspartame and advantame that is 8,000 times sweeter than sugar, so only minuscule amounts are used to sweeten foods. Although neotame was approved by the FDA in 2002, it is rarely used.
Safety: Animal and human studies have raised no safety concerns.
Stevia Leaf Extract
Among its brand names: Pure Via, SweetLeaf, Truvia. When used as an ingredient, typically called stevia leaf or stevia leaf extract, but may also appear as steviol glycosides, rebiana, rebaudioside A, reb A (or D, F, M, or X), or stevioside.
What it is: Highly purified extracts from the leaves of a shrub that traditionally grew in South America and that is now grown commercially in California and Asia. Stevia leaf extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Safety: In the 1990s, the FDA rejected the industry’s attempt to add whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts to foods because it was concerned about stevia’s potential impact on blood sugar, sperm count, kidney function, and the cardiovascular system.
However, in the early 2000s, manufacturers began developing highly purified stevia extracts, which they declared were safe. The FDA hasn’t objected to their use.
In two studies in rats, the stevia leaf extract stevioside didn’t increase the risk of cancer. In several other rat studies, a different extract (rebiana, which is also called rebaudioside A or reb A) didn’t impair fertility or lead to offspring with developmental problems. But in several of 31 genotoxicity studies, stevia-related compounds caused changes in DNA. Because of that, the FDA should have required companies to also test stevia leaf extracts for cancer in mice. That never happened.