Sucralose, a non-caloric sweetener made from sugar, will be available for the first time to consumers nationally beginning this month. The sweetener, also known by the brand name Splenda®, was approved for use in the U.S. in 1998 and has been used as an ingredient in a number of popular sugar-free products, but has not been offered directly to consumers until now.

This is sweet news to the 163 million Americans (79 percent of the U.S. adult population) who consume low-calorie and sugar-free foods and beverages, according to a national survey recently completed by the Calorie Control Council. Sugar substitutes (in packet or bulk granular form) are one of the most popular forms of these products, used by 41 percent of low-calorie product consumers.

"We believe people will be very excited to be able to buy sucralose in their local grocery store, or find it at their favorite restaurants. It's a very good-tasting sugar substitute that can be used in hot and cold beverages, and to replace sugar in many favorite recipes," said Lyn Nabors, executive vice president of the Council.

Each packet of sucralose, the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar, can save 32 calories. A cup of sucralose compared to sugar saves a whopping 674 calories (in a recipe). It is important to note that the calories derived from each packet or cup are from common food ingredients added to sucralose so that it measures and pours like sugar. So, for example, a cake or a pumpkin pie that serves 8 made with sucralose can provide a savings of almost one- third the calories per serving of a recipe sweetened with sugar. Another example: a bran muffin sweetened with sucralose is 60 calories easier on the waistline. Sucralose is very heat-stable, so it can be successfully used in cooking or baking.

"Our survey found that three-fourths of low-calorie consumers want to have more low-calorie and reduced-sugar choices available to use as a part of a healthy lifestyle," Nabors added. "When they learn there's a new sweetener in town with no calories whatsoever they'll definitely think their wishes have been granted."

Sucralose in tabletop form has been available overseas since 1991. The ingredient is approved by more than 40 regulatory agencies worldwide and is available in more than 400 products around the world.

The Calorie Control Council is a non-profit international association of companies that make low-calorie and reduced-fat ingredients and products. The Council sponsors a national consumer survey every two years to explore Americans' eating and weight control attitudes and habits. The 2000 survey was completed in July 2000, studying 1,200 U.S. adults (age 18 and over), with a sample reliability of 2.8 percent. Further information on the survey and on sucralose can be found at www.caloriecontrol.org, the Council's award- winning Web site.