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Delivery Systems for Natural High-Potency Sweetener Compositions, Methods for Their Formulation, and Uses

Imported: 10 Mar '17 | Published: 27 Nov '08

Indra Prakash, Grant E. DuBois

USPTO - Utility Patents

Abstract

The present invention provides substantially water soluble, substantially non-dusting delivery systems for natural high-potency sweeteners, methods for their formulation, and uses. In particular, the present invention relates to different delivery systems of sweetener compositions comprising at least one non-caloric or low-caloric natural high-potency sweetener.

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/939,545, filed on May 22, 2007, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to substantially water soluble, substantially non-dusting delivery systems for natural high-potency sweeteners. This invention also relates to a process for producing such delivery systems and methods for their use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Although natural caloric tabletop sweetener compositions such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose taste good to most consumers, they are caloric. Therefore, alternative non-caloric or low-caloric sweeteners have been used widely as sugar or sucrose substitutes. The use of such sweeteners may require additional considerations including effective means for delivering such high-potency sweetener compositions.

Notable problems with the delivery of high-potency sweetener compositions exist with content uniformity. For example, high-potency sweeteners are typically used in relatively small amounts and therefore require hulking agents for delivery. The relatively small amounts of high-potency sweeteners as compared to bulking agents may result in high degrees of segregation or uneven distribution. In addition, high-potency sweeteners may not be completely readily soluble under some conditions of use. Further, high-potency sweeteners often are in the form of a dusty powder which is difficult to handle during processing. Accordingly, it may be particularly desirable to provide delivery systems for natural high-potency sweeteners providing more consistent delivery, improved rate of dissolution, or less dusting during handling, or combinations thereof. In addition, it may be desirable to provide delivery systems for natural high-potency sweeteners that also exhibit an improved taste and/or flavor profile.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention. Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms and abbreviations used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention pertains. Although methods and compositions similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in practice of the present invention, suitable methods and compositions are described without intending that any such methods and compositions limit the invention herein.

This invention addresses the above-described needs by providing a sweetener delivery system for sweetener compositions comprising at least one natural high-potency sweetener, wherein the delivery system is selected from the group consisting of a sugar or polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition, an agglomerated sweetener composition, a co-dried sweetener composition, a granulated sweetener composition, an extruded or spheronized sweetener composition, a cyclodextrin complex, and a compacted form of a sweetener composition.

This invention also encompasses a process for preparing a delivery form of a sweetener composition comprising at least one natural high-potency sweetener comprising co-crystallizing the sweetener composition with sugar or polyol (e.g., erythritol), agglomerating the sweetener composition, co-drying the sweetener composition, preparing a metal complex of the sweetener composition, or preparing a cyclodextrin complex with the sweetener composition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/561,148, entitled Natural High-Potency Sweetener Compositions With Improved Temporal Profile And/Or Flavor Profile, Methods For Their Formulations, and Uses, filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Nov. 17, 2006, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/556,113, filed on Nov. 2, 2006, which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/739,302, filed on Nov. 23, 2005; U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/805,209, filed on Jun. 19, 2006; U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/805,216, filed on Jun. 19, 2006. In addition, the present application is related to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/889,318, filed on Feb. 12, 2007. These applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

Reference now will be made in detail to the presently proffered embodiments of the invention. Each example is provided by way of explanation of embodiments of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment, can be used on another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

I. Delivery Systems

Generally described, embodiments of the present invention provide delivery systems for sweetener compositions having improved ease of handling and rate of dissolution. Non-limiting examples of suitable delivery systems for the sweetener compositions provided herein in accordance with certain embodiments comprise sweetener compositions co-crystallized with a sugar or a polyol, agglomerated sweetener compositions, compacted sweetener compositions, dried sweetener compositions, particle sweetener compositions, spheronized sweetener compositions, granular sweetener compositions, and liquid sweetener compositions.

The sweetener compositions provided herein generally comprise at least one natural high-potency sweetener and are described in more detail hereinbelow.

A. Co-Crystallized Sugar/Polyol and Sweetener Composition

In a particular embodiment, a sweetener composition is co-crystallized with a sugar or a polyol in various ratios to prepare a substantially water soluble sweetener with substantially no dusting problems. Sugar, as used herein, generally refers to sucrose (C12H22O11). Polyol, as used herein, is synonymous with sugar alcohol and generally refers to a molecule that contains more than one hydroxyl group, erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, lactitol, xylitol, isomalt, propylene glycol, glycerol (glycerine), threitol, galactitol, palatinose, reduce isomalto-oligosaccharides, reduced xylo-oligosaccharides, reduced gentio-oligosaccharides, reduced maltose syrup, reduced glucose syrup, and sugar alcohols or any other carbohydrates capable of being reduced which do not adversely affect the taste of the sweetener composition.

In another embodiment, a process for preparing a sugar or a polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition is provided. Such methods are known to those of ordinary skill in the art, and are discussed in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,214,402. According to certain embodiments, the process for preparing a sugar or a polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition may comprise the steps of preparing a supersaturated sugar or polyol syrup, adding a predetermined amount of premix comprising a desired ratio of the sweetener composition and sugar or polyol to the syrup with vigorous mechanical agitation, removing the sugar or polyol syrup mixture from heat, and quickly cooling the sugar or polyol syrup mixture with vigorous agitation during crystallization and agglomeration. During the process the sweetener composition is incorporated as an integral part of the sugar or polyol matrix, thereby preventing the sweetener composition from separating or settling out of the mixture during handling, packaging, or storing. The resulting product may be granular, free-flowing, non-caking, and may be readily and uniformly dispersed or dissolved in water.

In a particular embodiment, a sugar or a polyol syrup may be obtained commercially or by effectively mixing a sugar or a polyol with water. The sugar or polyol syrup may be supersaturated to produce a syrup with a solids content in the range of about 95 to about 98% by weight of the syrup by removing water from the sugar syrup. Generally, the water may be removed from the sugar or polyol syrup by heating and agitating the sugar or polyol syrup while maintaining the sugar or polyol syrup at a temperature of not less than about 120 C. to prevent premature crystallization.

In another particular embodiment, a dry premix is prepared by combining the sweetener composition and a sugar or a polyol in a desired amount. According to certain embodiments, the weight ratio of the sweetener composition to sugar or polyol is in the range of about 0.001:1 to about 1:1. Other components, such as flavors or other high-potency sweeteners, also may be added to the dry premix, so long as the amount does not adversely affect the overall taste of the sugar co-crystallized sweetener composition.

The amounts of premix and supersaturated syrup may be varied in order to produce products with varying levels of sweetness. In particular embodiments, the sweetener composition is present in an amount from about 0.001% to about 50% by weight of the final product, or from about 0.001% to about 5%, or from about 0.001% to about 2.5%.

The sugar or polyol co-crystallized sweetener compositions of this invention are suitable for use in any sweetenable composition to replace conventional caloric sweeteners, as well as other types of low-caloric or non-caloric sweeteners. In addition, the sugar or polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition described herein can be combined in certain embodiments with bulking agents, non-limiting examples of which include dextrose, maltodextrin, lactose, inulin, polyols, polydextrose, cellulose and cellulose derivatives. Such products may be particularly suitable for use as tabletop sweeteners.

B. Agglomerated Sweetener Composition

In certain embodiments, an agglomerate of a sweetener composition is provided. As used herein, sweetener agglomerate means a plurality of sweetener particles clustered and held together. Examples of sweetener agglomerates include, but are not limited to, binder held agglomerates, extrudates, and granules.

1. Binder Held Agglomerates

According to a certain embodiment, a process for preparing an agglomerate of a sweetener composition, a binding agent, and a carrier is provided. Methods for making agglomerates are known to those of ordinary skill in the art, and are disclosed in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,180,157. Generally described, the process for preparing an agglomerate in accordance with a certain embodiment comprises the steps of preparing a premix solution comprising a sweetener composition and a binding agent in a solvent, heating the premix to a temperature sufficient to effectively form a mixture of the premix, applying the premix onto a fluidized carrier by a fluid bed agglomerator, and drying the resulting agglomerate. The sweetness level of the resulting agglomerate may be modified by varying the amount of the sweetener composition in the premix solution.

In a particular embodiment, the premix solution comprises a sweetener composition and a binding agent dissolved in a solvent. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the binding agent may have sufficient binding strength to facilitate agglomeration. Non-limiting examples of suitable binding agents include maltodextrin, sucrose, gellan gum, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose, polyvinyl pyrrolidone, and mixtures thereof. The sweetener composition and binding agent may be dissolved in the same solvent or in two separate solvents. In embodiments wherein separate solvents are used to dissolve the sweetener composition and binding agent, the solvents may be the same or different before being combined into a single solution. Any solvent in which the sweetener composition and/or binding agent dissolves may be used. Desirably, the solvent is a food grade solvent, non-limiting examples of which include ethanol, water, isopropanol, methanol, and mixtures thereof. In order to effect complete mixing of the premix, the premix may be heated up to a temperature in the range of about 30 to about 100 C. As used herein, the term effect mixing means blending sufficiently so as to form a mixture.

The amount of binding agent in the solution may vary depending on a variety of factors, including the binding strength of the particular binding agent and the particular solvent chosen. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the binding agent is present in the premix solution in an amount from about 1 to about 50% by weight of the premix solution, or from about 5 to about 25% by weight. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the weight ratio of the binding agent to the sweetener composition in the premix solution may vary from as low as about 1:10 to as high as about 10:1. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the weight ratio of the binding agent to the sweetener composition is from about 0.5:1.0 to about 2:1.

Following preparation of the premix solution, the premix solution is applied onto a fluidized carrier using a fluid bed agglomeration mixer. Preferably, the premix is applied onto the fluidized carrier by spraying the premix onto the fluidized carrier to form an agglomerate of the sweetener composition and the carrier. The fluid bed agglomerator may be any suitable fluid bed agglomerator known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, the fluid bed agglomerator may be a batch, a continuous, or a continuous turbulent flow agglomerator.

In accordance with a certain embodiment, the carrier is fluidized and its temperature is adjusted to between about 20 and about 50 C., or to between about 35 and about 45 C. In a certain embodiment, the carrier is heated to about 40 C. The carrier may be placed into a removable bowl of a fluid bed agglomerator. After the bowl is secured to the fluid bed agglomerator, the carrier is fluidized and heated as necessary by adjusting the inlet air temperature. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the temperature of the inlet air is maintained between 50 and 100 C. For example, to heat the fluidized carrier to about 40 C., the inlet air temperature may be adjusted to between 70 and 75 C.

Once the fluidized carrier reaches the desired temperature, the premix solution may be applied through the spray nozzle of the fluid bed agglomerator. The premix solution may be sprayed onto the fluidized carrier at any rate which is effective to produce an agglomerate having the desired particle size distribution. Those skilled in the art will recognize that a number of parameters may be adjusted to obtain the desired particle size distribution. After spraying is completed, the agglomerate may be allowed to dry. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the agglomerate is allowed to dry until the outlet air temperature reaches about 35 to about 40 C.

The amount of the sweetener composition, carrier, and binding agent in the resulting agglomerates may be varied depending on a variety of factors, including the selection of binding agent and carrier as well as the desired sweetening potency of the agglomerate. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the amount of sweetener composition present in the agglomerates may be controlled by varying the amount of the sweetener composition that is added to the premix solution. The amount of sweetness is particularly important when trying to match the sweetness delivered by other natural and/or synthetic sweeteners in a variety of products.

In one embodiment, the weight ratio of the carrier to the sweetener composition is between about 1:10 and about 10:1, or between about 0.5:1.0 and about 2:1. In one embodiment, the sweetener composition is present in the agglomerates in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 99.9% by weight, the carrier is present in the agglomerates in an amount in the range of about 50 to about 99.9% by weight, and the amount of binding agent is present in the agglomerates in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 15% by weight based on the total weight of the agglomerate. In another embodiment, the amount of the sweetener composition present in the agglomerate is in the range of about 50 to about 99.9% by weight, the amount of carrier present in the agglomerate is in the range of about 75 to about 99% by weight, and the amount of binding agent present in the agglomerate is in the range of about 1 to about 7% by weight.

The particle size distribution of the agglomerates may be determined by sifting the agglomerate through screens of various sizes. The product also may be screened to produce a narrower particle size distribution, if desired. For example, a 14 mesh screen may be used to remove large particles and produce a product of especially good appearance, particles smaller than 120 mesh may be removed to obtain an agglomerate with improved flow properties, or a narrower particle size distribution may be obtained if desired for particular applications.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the particle size distribution of the agglomerate may be controlled by a variety of factors, including the selection of binding agent, the concentration of the binding agent in solution, the spray rate of the spray solution, the atomization air pressure, and the particular carrier used. For example, increasing the spray rate may increase the average particle size.

In accordance with a certain embodiment, the agglomerates provided herein may be blended with blending agents. Blending agents, as used herein, include a broad range of ingredients commonly used in foods or beverages, including, but not limited to, those ingredients used as binding agents, carriers, bulking agents, and sweeteners. For example, the agglomerates may be used to prepare tabletop sweeteners or powdered drink mixes by dry blending the agglomerates of this invention with blending agents commonly used to prepare tabletop sweeteners or powdered drink mixes using methods well known to those of ordinary skill in the art.

2. Extrudates

Also provided in embodiments herein are substantially dustless and substantially free-flowing extrudates or extruded agglomerates of the sweetener composition. In accordance with certain embodiments, such particles may be formed with or without the use of binders using extrusion and spheronization processes.

Extrudates or extruded sweetener composition, as used herein, refers to cylindrical, free-flowing, relatively non-dusty, mechanically strong granules of the sweetener composition. The terms spheres or spheronized sweetener composition, as used herein, refer to relatively spherical, smooth, free-flowing, relatively non-dusty, mechanically strong granules. Although spheres typically have a smoother surface and may be stronger/harder than extrudates, extrudates offer a cost advantage by requiring less processing. The spheres and extrudates of this invention may be processed further, if desired, to form various other particles, such as, for example, by grinding or chopping.

In another embodiment, a process for making extrudates of the sweetener composition is provided. Such methods are known to those of ordinary skill in the art and are described in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,365,216. Generally described, the process of making extrudates of a sweetener composition, in accordance with a certain embodiment, comprises the steps of combining the sweetener composition, a plasticizer, and optionally a binder to form a wet mass; extruding the wet mass to form extrudates; and drying the extrudates to obtain particles of the sweetener composition.

Non-limiting examples of suitable plasticizers, in accordance with a certain embodiment, include water, glycerol, and mixtures thereof. In accordance with certain embodiments, the plasticizer generally is present in the wet mass in an amount from about 4 to about 45% by weight, or from about 15 to about 35% by weight.

Non-limiting examples of suitable binders, in accordance with a certain embodiment, include polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), maltodextrins, microcrystalline cellulose, starches, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose (HPMC), methylcellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC), gum arabic, gelatin, xanthan gum, and mixtures thereof. In accordance with certain embodiments, the binder generally is present in the wet mass in an amount from about 0.01 to about 45% by weight, or from about 0.5 to about 10% by weight.

In a particular embodiment, the binder may be dissolved in the plasticizer to form a binder solution that is later added to the sweetener composition and other optional ingredients. Use of the binder solution provides better distribution of the binder through the wet mass.

Other optional ingredients that may be included in the wet mass include carriers and additives. One of ordinary skill in the art should readily appreciate that the carriers and additives may comprise any typical food ingredient and also should readily discern the appropriate amount of a given food ingredient to achieve a desired flavor, taste, or functionality.

Methods of extruding the wet mass to form extrudates are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In a particular embodiment, a low pressure extruder fitted with a die is used to form the extrudates. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the extrudates are cut into lengths using a cutting device attached to the discharge end of the extruder to form extrudates that are substantially cylindrical in shape and may have the form of noodles or pellets. The shape and size of the extrudates may be varied depending upon the shape and size of the die openings and the use of the cutting device.

Following the extrusion of the extrudates, the extrudates are dried using methods well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In a particular embodiment, a fluidized bed dryer is used to dry the extrudates.

Optionally, in a particular embodiment, the extrudates are formed into spheres prior to the step of drying. Spheres are formed by charging the extrudates into a marumerizer, which consists of a vertical hollow cylinder (bowl) with a horizontal rotating disc (friction plate) therein. The rotating disc surface can have a variety of textures suited for specific purposes. For example, a grid pattern may be used that corresponds to the desired particle size. The extrudates are formed into spheres by contact with the rotating disc and by collisions with the wall of the bowl and between particles. During the forming of the spheres, excess moisture may move to the surface or thixotropic behavior may be exhibited by the extrudates, requiring a slight dusting with a suitable powder to reduce the probability that the particles will stick together.

As previously described, the extrudates of the sweetener composition may be formed with or without the use of a binder. The formation of extrudates without the use of a binder is desirable due to its lower cost and improved product quality. In addition, the number of additives in the extrudates is reduced. In embodiments wherein the extrudates are formed without the use of a binder, the method of forming particles further comprises the step of heating the wet mass of the sweetener composition and plasticizer to promote the binding of the wet mass. Desirably, the wet mass is heated to a temperature from about 30 to about 90 C., or from about 40 to about 70 C. Methods of heating the wet mass, in accordance with certain embodiments, include, but are not limited to, an oven, a kneader with a heated jacket, or an extruder with mixing and heating capabilities.

3. Granular Sweetener Compositions

In one embodiment, granulated forms of a sweetener composition are provided. As used herein, the terms granules, granulated forms, and granular forms are synonymous and refer to free-flowing, substantially non-dusty, mechanically strong agglomerates of the sweetener composition.

In another embodiment, a process for making granular forms of a sweetener composition is provided. Methods of granulation are known to those of ordinary skill in the art and are described in more detail in the PCT Publication WO 01/60842. In accordance with certain embodiments, such methods include, but are not limited to, spray granulation using a wet binder with or without fluidization, powder compaction, pulverizing, extrusion, and tumble agglomeration. The preferred method of forming granules is powder compaction due to its simplicity. Also provided herein are compacted forms of the sweetener composition.

In accordance with a certain embodiment, the process of forming granules of the sweetener composition comprises the steps of compacting the sweetener composition to form compacts; breaking up the compacts to form granules; and optionally screening the granules to obtain granules of the sweetener composition having a desired particle size.

Methods of compacting the sweetener composition may be accomplished using any known compacting techniques. Non-limiting examples of such techniques include roller compaction, tableting, slugging, ram extrusion, plunger pressing, roller briquetting, reciprocating piston processing, die pressing and pelletting. The compacts may take any form that may be subjected to subsequent size reduction, non-limiting examples of which include flakes, chips, briquets, chunks, and pellets. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the shape and appearance of the compacts will vary depending upon the shape and surface characteristics of the equipment used in the compacting step. Accordingly, the compacts may appear smooth, corrugated, fluted, or pillow-pocketed, or the like. In addition, the actual size and characteristics of the compacts will depend upon the type of equipment and operation parameters employed during compaction.

In a particularly desirable embodiment, the sweetener composition is compacted into flakes or chips using a roller compactor. A conventional roller compaction apparatus usually includes a hopper for feeding the sweetener composition to be compacted and a pair of counter-rotating rolls, either or both of which are fixed onto their axes with one roll optionally slightly movable. The sweetener composition is fed to the apparatus through the hopper by gravity or a force-feed screw. The actual size of the resulting compacts will depend upon the width of the roll and scale of the equipment used. In addition, the characteristics of the compacts, such as hardness, density, and thickness will depend on factors such as pressure, roll speed, feed rate, and feed screw amps employed during the compaction process.

In a particular embodiment, the sweetener composition is deaerated prior to the step of compacting, leading to more effective compaction and the formation of stronger compacts and resultant granules. Deaeration may be accomplished through any known means, non-limiting examples of which include screw feeding, vacuum deaeration, and combinations thereof.

In another particular embodiment, a dry binder is mixed with the sweetener composition prior to compaction. The use of a dry binder may improve the strength of the granules and aid in their dispersion in liquids. In accordance with certain embodiments, suitable dry binders include pregelatinized corn starch, microcrystalline cellulose, hydrophilic polymers (e.g., methyl cellulose, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, polyvinylpyrrolidone, alginates, xanthan gum, gellan gum, and gum arabic) and mixtures thereof. In accordance with certain embodiments, the dry binder generally is present in an amount from about 0.1 to about 40% by weight based on the total weight of the mixture of the sweetener composition and dry binder.

Following the step of compacting, the compacts are broken up to form granules. Any suitable means of breaking up the compacts may be used, including milling. In one particular embodiment, the breaking up of the compacts is accomplished in a plurality of steps using a variety of opening sizes for the milling. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the breaking up of the compacts is accomplished in two steps: a course breaking step and a subsequent milling step. The step of breaking up the compacts reduces the number of overs in the granulated sweetener composition. As used herein, overs refers to material larger than the largest desired particle size.

The breaking up of the compacts generally results in granules of varying sizes. Accordingly, it may be desirable to screen the granules to obtain granules having a desired particle size range. Any conventional means for screening particles may be used to screen the granules, including screeners and sifters. Following screening, the fines optionally may be recycled through the compactor. As used herein, fines refers to material smaller than the smallest desired particle size.

C. Co-Dried Sweetener Composition

Also provided herein are co-dried sweetener compositions comprising a sweetener composition and one or more co-agents. Co-agent, as used herein, includes any ingredient which is desired to be used with and is compatible with the sweetener composition for the product being produced. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the co-agents will be selected based on one or more functionalities which are desirable for use in the product applications for which the sweetener composition will be used. A broad range of ingredients are compatible with the sweetener compositions, and can be selected for such functional properties. In one embodiment, the one or more co-agents comprise the at least one sweet taste improving compositions of the sweetener composition described hereinbelow. In another embodiment, the one or more co-agents comprise a bulking agent, flow agent, encapsulating agent, or a mixture thereof.

In another embodiment, a method of co-drying a sweetener composition and one or more co-agents is provided. Such methods are known to those of ordinary skill in the art and are described in more detail in PCT Publication WO 02/05660. Any conventional drying equipment or technique known to those of ordinary skill in the art may be used to co-dry the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents. In accordance with certain embodiments, suitable drying processes include, but are not limited to, spray drying, convection drying, vacuum drum drying, freeze drying, pan drying, and high speed paddle drying.

In a particularly desirable embodiment, the sweetener composition is spray dried. In accordance with a certain embodiment, a solution is prepared of the sweetener composition and one or more desired co-agents. Any suitable solvent or mixture of solvents may be used to prepare the solution, depending on the solubility characteristics of the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents. In accordance with certain embodiments, suitable solvents include, but are not limited to, water, ethanol, and mixtures thereof.

In one embodiment, the solution of the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents may be heated prior to spray drying. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the temperature is selected on the basis of the dissolution properties of the dry ingredients and the desired viscosity of the spray drying feed solution.

In another embodiment, a non-reactive, non-flammable gas (e.g., carbon dioxide) may be added to the solution of the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents before atomization. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the non-reactive, non-flammable gas is added in an amount effective to lower the bulk density of the resulting spray dried product and to produce a product comprising hollow spheres.

Methods of spray drying are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In accordance with a certain embodiment, the solution of the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents is fed through a spray dryer at an air inlet temperature in the range of about 150 to about 350 C. Increasing the air inlet temperature at a constant air flow may result in a product having reduced bulk density. The air outlet temperature may range from about 70 to about 140 C., in accordance with certain embodiments. Decreasing the air outlet temperature may result in a product having a high moisture content which allows for ease of agglomeration in a fluid bed dryer to produce sweetener compositions having superior dissolution properties.

Any suitable spray drying equipment may be used to co-dry the sweetener composition and one or more co-agents. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the equipment selection may be tailored to obtain a product having particular physical characteristics. For example, foam spray drying may be used to produce low bulk density products. Alternatively, a fluid bed may be attached to the exit of the spray dryer to produce a product having enhanced dissolution rates for use in instant products. In accordance with certain embodiments, examples of spray dryers include, but are not limited to, co-current nozzle tower spray dryers, co-current rotary atomizer spray dryers, counter-current nozzle tower spray dryers, and mixed-flow fountain nozzle spray dryers.

The resulting co-dried sweetener compositions may be further treated or separated using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, a desired particle size distribution can be obtained by using screening techniques. Alternatively, the resulting co-dried sweetener compositions may undergo further processing, such as agglomeration.

Spray drying uses liquid feeds that can be atomized (e.g., slurries, solutions, and suspensions). Alternative methods of drying may be selected depending on the type of feed. For example, freeze drying and pan drying are capable of handling not only liquid feeds, as described above, but also wet cakes and pastes. Paddle dryers, such as high speed paddle dryers, can accept slurries, suspensions, gels, and wet cakes. Vacuum drum drying methods, although primarily used with liquid feeds, have great flexibility in handling feeds having a wide range of viscosities.

The resulting co-dried sweetener compositions have surprising functionality for use in a variety of systems. Notably, the co-dried sweetener compositions are believed to have superior taste properties. In addition, co-dried sweetener compositions may have increased stability in low-moisture systems.

D. Cyclodextrin Complexes of Sweetener Compositions

In still another embodiment provided herein are compositions comprising cyclodextrin in combination with the sweetener compositions described hereinbelow. Cyclodextrin inclusion is a molecular phenomenon in which one or more guest molecules interact with the cavity of one or more cyclodextrin molecules to become entrapped, unlike encapsulation in which more than one guest molecule is entrapped in an encapsulation matrix. To form a cyclodextrin complex, guest molecules come into contact with cyclodextrin cavities to form stable associations, which are the result of a variety of non-covalent forces (e.g., van der Waal forces, hydrophobic interactions, etc.).

In accordance with certain embodiments, cyclodextrin suitable for use in the embodiments provided here is a cyclic oligosaccharide homolog also known as cycloamylose. It consists of 6 to 10 D-glycopyranose groups bonded through -(1,4)-glycoside bonds to form a cyclic structure. The cyclodextrin is named according to the degree of polymerization as -, -, or -cyclodextrin having 6, 7, or 8 glucose units, respectively. The interior of the ring contains CH bonds or ether bonds and is hydrophobic while the exterior of the ring is interspersed with OH groups and is highly hydrophilic. Accordingly, it is believed that the sweetener compositions provided for herein are entrapped in the interior of the cyclodextrin structure. Any -, -, -cyclodextrin, or combination thereof may be used to form a complex with the sweetener compositions of the present invention. In accordance with certain embodiments, cyclodextrin may be substituted or unsubstituted such as with groups including, but not limited to, alkyl, hydroxyalkyl, acetyl, amine, sulphate, or a combination thereof.

The cyclodextrin complexes may be formed using any suitable method to form a complex. In accordance with certain embodiments, suitable complexation methods include, but are not limited to, co-precipitation, slurry complexation, paste complexation, damp mixing and heating, and extrusion and dry mixing techniques. Such methods are described in more detail in PCT Publication No. WO 00/15049, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. Complexation also may be achieved using agglomeration methods, such as those described hereinabove.

In a particular embodiment, the cyclodextrin complex is formed by co-precipitation. Briefly described, the cyclodextrin is dissolved in water and the sweetener composition is added with stirring. The concentration of the cyclodextrin and sweetener composition is chosen to be sufficiently high so that the solubility of the cyclodextrin/sweetener complex will be exceeded as the complexation reaction proceeds or as the reaction cools. The cyclodextrin complex may be retrieved by collection of precipitate after cooling or by freeze drying. The precipitate may be collected using any techniques known to those of ordinary skill in the art, including decantation, centrifugation, or filtration. The precipitate is then washed with a small amount of water or other water miscible solvent (e.g., cold ethyl alcohol, cold methanol, or cold acetone). Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the temperature, selection of solvent and amount of solvent will affect the solubility, stability, and formation of the complexes. Accordingly, one of ordinary skill in the art can readily determine an appropriate balance of these parameters without undue experimentation.

II. Sweetener Compositions

A. Natural High-Potency Sweeteners

The sweetener compositions provided comprises at least one natural high-potency sweetener. As used herein the phrases natural high-potency sweetener, NHPS, NHPS composition, and natural high-potency sweetener composition are synonymous. NHPS means any sweetener found in nature which may be in raw, extracted, purified, or any other form, singularly or in combination thereof and characteristically have a sweetness potency greater than sucrose, fructose, or glucose, yet have less calories. Non-limiting examples of NHPSs suitable for embodiments of this invention include rebaudioside A, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C (dulcoside B), rebaudioside D, rebaudioside E, rebaudioside F, dulcoside A, rubusoside, stevia, stevioside, mogroside IV, mogroside V, Luo Han Guo sweetener, siamenoside, monatin and its salts (monatin SS, RR, RS, SR), curculin, glycyrrhizic acid and its salts, thaumatin, monellin, mabinlin, brazzein, hemandulcin, phyllodulcin, glycyphyllin, phloridzin, trilobatin, baiyunoside, osladin, polypodoside A, pterocaryoside A, pterocaryoside B, mukurozioside, phlomisoside I, periandrin I, abrusoside A, and cyclocarioside I. NHPS also includes modified NHPSs. Modified NHPSs include NHPSs which have been altered naturally. For example, a modified NHPS includes, but is not limited to, NHPSs which have been fermented, contacted with enzyme, or derivatized or substituted on the NHPS. In one embodiment, at least one modified NHPS may be used in combination with at least one NHPS. In another embodiment, at least one modified NHPS may be used without a NHPS. Thus, modified NHPSs may be substituted for a NHPS or may be used in combination with NHPSs for any of the embodiments described herein. For the sake of brevity, however, in the description of embodiments of this invention, a modified NHPS is not expressly described as an alternative to an unmodified NHPS, but it should be understood that modified NHPSs can be substituted for NHPSs in any embodiment disclosed herein.

In one embodiment, extracts of a NHPS may be used in any purity percentage. In another embodiment, when a NHPS is used as a non-extract, the purity of the NHPS may range for example from about 25% to about 100%. According to other embodiments, the purity of the NHPS may range from about 50% to about 100%; from about 70% to about 100%; from about 80% to about 100%; from about 90% to about 100%; from about 95% to about 100%; from about 95% to about 99.5%; from about 96% to about 100%; from about 97% to about 100%; from about 98% to about 100%; and from about 99% to about 100%.

Purity, as used here, represents the weight percentage of a respective NHPS compound present in a NHPS extract, in raw or purified form. In one embodiment, a steviolglycoside extract comprises a particular steviolglycoside in a particular purity, with the remainder of the stevioglycoside extract comprising a mixture of other steviolglycosides.

To obtain a particularly pure extract of a NHPS, such as rebaudioside A, it may be necessary to purify the crude extract to a substantially pure form. Such methods generally are known to those of ordinary skill in the art.

An exemplary method for purifying a NHPS, such as rebaudioside A, is described in the co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/751,627, filed May 21, 2007, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Nos. 60/805,216 and 60/889,318, filed on Jun. 19, 2006 and Feb. 12, 2007, respectively, all entitled Rebaudioside A Composition and Method for Purifying Rebaudioside A, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

Briefly described, substantially pure rebaudioside A is crystallized in a single step from an aqueous organic solution comprising at least one organic solvent and water in an amount from about 10% to about 25% by weight, more particularly from about 15% to about 20% by weight. Organic solvents desirably comprise alcohols, acetone, and acetonitile. Non-limiting examples of alcohols include ethanol, methanol, isopropanol, 1-propanol, 1-butanol, 2-butanol, tert-butanol, and isobutanol. In one embodiment, the at least one organic solvent comprises a mixture of ethanol and methanol present in the aqueous organic solution in a weight ratio ranging from about 20 parts to about 1 part ethanol to about 1 part methanol, more desirably from about 3 parts to about 1 part ethanol to about 1 part methanol.

In one embodiment, the weight ratio of the aqueous organic solution and crude rebaudioside A ranges from about 10 to about 4 parts aqueous organic solution to about 1 part crude rebaudioside A, more particularly from about 5 to about 3 parts aqueous organic solution to about 1 part crude rebaudioside A.

In an exemplary embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A is carried out at approximately room temperature. In another embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the step of heating the rebaudioside A solution to a temperature in a range from about 20 C. to about 40 C., from about 40 C. to about 60 C., at reflux temperature, for about 0.25 hour to about 8 hours. In another exemplary embodiment, wherein the method for purifying rebaudioside A comprises the step of heating the rebaudioside A solution, the method further comprises the step of cooling the rebaudioside A solution to a temperature in the range from about 4 C. to about 25 C. for about 0.5 hour to about 24 hours.

According to particular embodiments, the purity of rebaudioside A may range from about 50% to about 100% by weight on a dry basis; from about 70% to about 100%; from about 80% to about 100%; from about 85% to about 100%; from about 90% to about 100%; from about 95% to about 100%; from about 95% to about 99.5%; about 96% to about 100%; from about 97% to about 100%; from about 98% to about 100%; and from about 99% to about 100%. According to particular embodiments, upon crystallization of crude rebaudioside A, the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition comprises rebaudioside A in a purity greater than about 95% by weight up to about 100% by weight on a dry basis. In other exemplary embodiments, substantially pure rebaudioside A comprises purity levels of rebaudioside A greater than about 97% up to about 100% rebaudioside A by weight on a dry basis, greater than about 98% up to about 100% by weight on a dry basis, or greater than about 99% up to about 100% by weight on a dry basis. The rebaudioside A solution during the single crystallization step may be stirred or unstirred.

In an exemplary embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the step of seeding (optional step) the rebaudioside A solution at an appropriate temperature with high-purity crystals of rebaudioside A sufficient to promote crystallization of the rebaudioside A to form pure rebaudioside A. An amount of rebaudioside A sufficient to promote crystallization of substantially pure rebaudioside A comprises an amount of rebaudioside A from about 0.0001% to about 1% by weight of the rebaudioside A present in the solution, more particularly from about 0.01% to about 1% by weight. An appropriate temperature for the step of seeding comprises a temperature in a range from about 18 C. to about 35 C.

In another exemplary embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the steps of separating and washing the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition. The substantially pure rebaudioside A composition may be separated from the aqueous organic solution by a variety of solid-liquid separation techniques that utilize centrifugal force, that include, without limitation, vertical and horizontal perforated basket centrifuge, solid bowl centrifuge, decanter centrifuge, peeler type centrifuge, pusher type centrifuge, Heinkel type centrifuge, disc stack centrifuge and cyclone separation. Additionally, separation may be enhanced by any of pressure, vacuum, and gravity filtration methods, that include, without limitation, the use of belt, drum, Nutsche type, leaf, plate, Rosenmund type, sparkler type, and bag filters and filter press. Operation of the rebaudioside A solid-liquid separation device may be continuous, semi-continuous or in batch mode. The substantially pure rebaudioside A composition also may be washed on the separation device using various aqueous organic solutions and mixtures thereof. The substantially pure rebaudioside A composition can be dried partially or totally on the separation device using any number of gases, including, without limitation, nitrogen and argon, to evaporate residual liquid solvent. The substantially pure rebaudioside A composition may be removed automatically or manually from the separation device using liquids, gases or mechanical means by either dissolving the solid or maintaining the solid form.

In still another exemplary embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the step of drying the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition using techniques well known to those skilled in the art, non-limiting examples of which include the use of a rotary vacuum dryer, fluid bed dryer, rotary tunnel dryer, plate dryer, tray dryer, Nauta type dryer, spray dryer, flash dryer, micron dryer, pan dryer, high and low speed paddle dryer and microwave dryer. In an exemplary embodiment, the step of drying comprises drying the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition using a nitrogen or argon purge to remove the residual solvent at a temperature in a range from about 40 C. to about 60 C. for about 5 hours to about 100 hours.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, wherein the crude rebaudioside A mixture comprises substantially no rebaudioside D impurity, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the step of slurrying the composition of substantially pure rebaudioside A with an aqueous organic solution or an organic solvent prior to the step of drying the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition. The slurry is a mixture comprising a solid and an aqueous organic solution or organic solvent, wherein the solid comprises the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition and is only sparingly soluble in the aqueous organic solution or organic solvent. In an embodiment, the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition and aqueous organic solution or organic solvent are present in the slurry in a weight ratio ranging from about 15 parts to about 1 part aqueous organic solution or organic solvent to about 1 part substantially pure rebaudioside A composition. In one embodiment, the slurry is maintained at room temperature. In another embodiment, the step of slurrying comprises heating the slurry to a temperature in a range from about 20 C. to about 40 C. The substantially pure rebaudioside A composition may be slurried for about 0.5 hour to about 24 hours.

In still yet another exemplary embodiment, the method of purifying rebaudioside A further comprises the steps of separating the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition from the aqueous organic or organic solvent of the slurry and washing the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition followed by the step of drying the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition.

If further purification is desired, the method of purifying rebaudioside A described herein may be repeated or the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition may be purified further using an alternative purification method, such as column chromatography.

It also is contemplated that other NHPSs may be purified using the purification method described herein, requiring only minor experimentation that would be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art.

The purification of rebaudioside A by crystallization as described hereinabove results in the formation of at least three different polymorphs: Form 1: a rebaudioside A hydrate; Form 2: an anhydrous rebaudioside A; and Form 3: a rebaudioside A solvate. In addition to the at least three polymorphic forms of rebaudioside A, the purification of rebaudioside A may result in the formation of an amorphous form of rebaudioside A, Form 4. The aqueous organic solution and temperature of the purification process influence the resulting polymorphs in the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition. FIGS. 1-5 are exemplary powder x-ray diffraction (XRPD) scans of the polymorphic and amorphous forms of rebaudioside A: Form 1 (hydrate), Form 2 (anhydrate), Form 3A (methanol solvate), Form 3B (ethanol solvate), and Form 4 (amorphous), respectively.

The material properties of the four rebaudioside A polymorphic and amorphous forms are summarized in the following table:

TABLE 1 Rebaudioside A Polymorphic and Amorphous Forms Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4 Polymorph Polymorph Polymorph Amorphous Rate of Very low Intermediate High High dissolution in (0.2% in (30% in (30% in (35% in H2O at 25 C. 60 minutes) 5 minutes) 5 minutes) 5 minutes) Alcohol 0.5% 1% 1-3% 0.05% content Moisture 5% 1% 3% 6% content

The type of polymorph formed is dependent on the composition of the aqueous organic solution, the temperature of the crystallization step, and the temperature during the drying step. Not wishing to be bound by any theory, Form 1 and Form 3 are believed to be formed during the single crystallization step while Form 2 is believed to be formed during the drying step after conversion from Form 1 or Form 3.

Low temperatures during the crystallization step, in the range of about 20 C. to about 50 C., and a low ratio of water to the organic solvent in the aqueous organic solution results in the formation of Form 3. High temperatures during the crystallization step, in the range of about 50 C. to about 80 C., and a high ratio of water to the organic solvent in the aqueous organic solution results in the formation of the Form 1. Form 1 can be converted to Form 3 by slurrying in an anhydrous solvent at room temperature (2-16 hours) or at reflux for approximately (0.5-3 hours). Form 3 can be converted to Form 1 by slurrying the polymorph in water at room temperature for approximately 16 hours or at reflux for approximately 2-3 hours. Form 3 can be converted to the Form 2 during the drying process; however, increasing either the drying temperature above 70 C. or the drying time of a substantially pure rebaudioside A composition can result in decomposition of the rebaudioside A and increase the level of rebaudioside B impurity in the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition. Form 2 can be converted to Form 1 with the addition of water.

Form 4 may be formed from Form 1, 2, 3, or combinations thereof, using methods well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Non-limiting examples of such methods include ball milling, precipitation, lypophilization, cryo-grinding, and spray-drying. In a particular embodiment, Form 4 can be prepared from a substantially pure rebaudioside A composition obtained by the purification methods described hereinabove by spray-drying a solution of the substantially pure rebaudioside A composition.

According to particular embodiments, the rebaudioside A composition may be modified to comprise particular amounts of the polymorphic or amorphous forms. For example, in one embodiment the rebaudioside A composition may be modified to have an increased amount of Forms 2, 3, or 4, or a combination thereof (such that the total amount of the combined Forms falls within the desired range) while decreasing the amount of Form 1 present. Not wishing to be bound by any theory, by controlling the amount of the particular polymorphic and/or amorphous forms present in the rebaudioside A composition, a desired rate of dissolution of the rebaudioside A composition may be obtained.

For example, in a particular embodiment the rebaudioside A composition may comprise any one of Forms 2, 3, or 4, or a combination thereof (such that the total amount of the combined Forms falls within the designated range) in an amount of at least about 10% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition, at least about 25%, at least about 50%, at least about 75%, at least about 90%, or at least 99% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition. In another embodiment, the rebaudioside A composition may comprise an amount of any one of Forms 2, 3, or 4, or a combination thereof (such that the total amount of the combined Forms falls within the designated range) in an amount from about 10% up to about 100% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition, from about 25% up to about 100%, from about 50% up to about 100%, from about 75% up to about 100%, or from about 90% up to about 100% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition. Alternatively or in addition to controlling the amount of Forms 2, 3, or 4, or combinations thereof which are present in the rebaudioside A composition, one skilled in the art may desire to control the rate of dissolution of the rebaudioside A composition by modifying the amount of Form 1 present in the rebaudioside A composition. Accordingly, in a particular embodiment the rebaudioside A composition may comprise Form 1 in an amount up to about 50% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition, up to about 25%, up to about 10%, up to about 5%, or up to about 1% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition. In another embodiment, the rebaudioside A composition may comprise Form 1 in an amount from about 0.5% up to about 50% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition, from about 0.5% up to about 25%, from about 0.5% up to about 10%, from about 0.5% up to about 5%, or from about 0.5% up to about 1% by weight of the rebaudioside A composition.

The NHPS sweeteners may be used individually or in combination with other NHPS sweeteners. For example, the sweetener composition may comprise a single NHPS or one or more NHPSs. A plurality of natural high-potency sweeteners may be used as long as the combined effect does not adversely affect the taste of the sweetener composition or orally sweetened composition.

For example, particular embodiments comprise combinations of NHPSs, such as steviolglycosides. Non-limiting examples of suitable steviolglycosides which may be combined include rebaudioside A, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C (dulcoside B), rebaudioside D, rebaudioside E, rebaudioside F, dulcoside A, rubusoside, stevioside, or steviolbioside. According to particularly desirable embodiments of the present invention, the combination of high-potency sweeteners comprises rebaudioside A in combination with rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C, rebaudioside E, rebaudioside F, stevioside, steviolbioside, dulcoside A, or combinations thereof.

Generally, according to a particular embodiment, rebaudioside A is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 50 to about 99.5 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 70 to about 90 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 75 to about 85 weight percent.

In another particular embodiment, rebaudioside B is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 1 to about 8 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 2 to about 5 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 2 to about 3 weight percent.

In another particular embodiment, rebaudioside C is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 1 to about 10 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 3 to about 8 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 4 to about 6 weight percent.

In still another particular embodiment, rebaudioside E is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 4 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 0.1 to about 2 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 0.5 to about 1 weight percent.

In still another particular embodiment, rebaudioside F is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 4 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 0.1 to about 2 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 0.5 to about 1 weight percent.

In still yet another particular embodiment, dulcoside A is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 4 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 0.1 to about 2 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 0.5 to about 1 weight percent.

In another particular embodiment, stevioside is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 0.5 to about 10 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 1 to about 6 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 1 to about 4 weight percent.

In still another particular embodiment, steviolbioside is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 4 weight percent of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, more desirably in the range of about 0.1 to about 2 weight percent, and still more desirably in the range of about 0.5 to about 1 weight percent.

According to a particularly desirable embodiment, the high-potency sweetener composition comprises a combination of rebaudioside A, stevioside, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C, and rebaudioside F; wherein rebaudioside A is present in the combination of high-potency sweeteners in an amount in the range of about 75 to about 85 weight percent based on the total weight of the combination of high-potency sweeteners, stevioside is present in an amount in the range of about 1 to about 6 weight percent, rebaudioside B is present in an amount in the range of about 2 to about 5 weight percent, rebaudioside C is present in an amount in the range of about 3 to about 8 weight percent, and rebaudioside F is present in an amount in the range of about 0.1 to about 2 weight percent.

In addition, those of ordinary skill in the art should appreciate that the sweetener composition can be customized to obtain a desired calorie content. For example, a low-caloric or non-caloric NHPS may be combined with a caloric natural sweetener and/or other caloric additives to produce a sweetener composition with a preferred calorie content.

B. Sweet Taste Improving Compositions

The sweetener composition optionally also may comprise a sweet taste improving composition, as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/561,148, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Non-limiting examples of suitable sweet taste improving compositions include carbohydrates, polyols, amino acids and their corresponding salts, polyamino acids and their corresponding salts, sugar acids and their corresponding salts, nucleotides, organic acids, inorganic acids, organic salts including organic acid salts and organic base salts, inorganic salts, bitter compounds, flavorants and flavoring ingredients, astringent compounds, proteins or protein hydrolysates, surfactants, emulsifiers, flavonoids, alcohols, polymers, other sweet taste improving taste additives imparting such sugar-like characteristics, and combinations thereof.

In one embodiment, a single sweet taste improving composition may be used in combination with a single natural high-potency sweetener. In another embodiment of the present invention, a single sweet taste improving composition may be used in combination with one or more natural high-potency sweeteners. In yet another embodiment, one or more sweet taste improving compositions may be used in combination with a single natural high-potency sweetener. In a further embodiment, there may be a plurality of sweet taste improving combinations used in combination with one or more natural high-potency sweeteners.

In a particular embodiment, combinations of at least one natural high-potency sweetener and at least one sweet taste improving composition suppress, reduce, or eliminate undesirable taste and impart sugar-like characteristics to the sweetener. As used herein, the phrase undesirable taste includes any taste property which is not imparted by sugars, e.g. glucose, sucrose, fructose, or similar saccharides. Non-limiting examples of undesirable tastes include delayed sweetness onset, lingering sweet aftertaste, metallic taste, bitter taste, cooling sensation taste or menthol-like taste, licorice-like taste, and/or the like.

In one embodiment, a sweetener composition exhibits a more sugar-like temporal and/or sugar-like flavor profile than a sweetener composition comprising at least one natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweetener, but without a sweet taste improving composition, is provided. As used herein, the phrases sugar-like characteristic, sugar-like taste, sugar-like sweet, sugary, and sugar-like are synonymous. Sugar-like characteristics include any characteristic similar to that of sucrose and include, but are not limited to, maximal response, flavor profile, temporal profile, adaptation behavior, mouthfeel, concentration/response function behavior, tastant and flavor/sweet taste interactions, spatial pattern selectivity, and temperature effects. These characteristics are dimensions in which the taste of sucrose is different from the tastes of natural high-potency sweeteners. Whether or not a characteristic is more sugar-like is determined by expert sensory panel assessments of sugar and compositions comprising at least one natural synthetic high-potency sweetener, both with and without a sweet taste improving composition. Such assessments quantify similarities of the characteristics of compositions comprising at least one natural high-potency sweetener, both with and without a sweet taste improving composition, with those comprising sugar. Suitable procedures for determining whether a composition has a more sugar-like taste are well known in the art.

In a particular embodiment, a panel of assessors is used to measure the reduction of sweetness linger. Briefly described, a panel of assessors (generally 8 to 12 individuals) is trained to evaluate sweetness perception and measure sweetness at several time points from when the sample is initially taken into the mouth until 3 minutes after it has been expectorated. Using statistical analysis, the results are compared between samples containing additives and samples that do not contain additives. A decrease in score for a time point measured after the sample has cleared the mouth indicates there has been a reduction in sweetness perception.

The panel of assessors may be trained using procedures well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In a particular embodiment, the panel of assessors may be trained using the Spectrum Descriptive Analysis Method (Meilgaard et al, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, 3rd edition, Chapter 11). Desirably, the focus of training should be the recognition of and the measure of the basic tastes; specifically, sweet. In order to ensure accuracy and reproducibility of results, each assessor should repeat the measure of the reduction of sweetness linger about three to about five times per sample, taking at least a five minute break between each repetition and/or sample and rinsing well with water to clear the mouth.

Generally, the method of measuring sweetness comprises taking a 10 mL sample into the mouth, holding the sample in the mouth for 5 seconds and gently swirling the sample in the mouth, rating the sweetness intensity perceived at 5 seconds, expectorating the sample (without swallowing following expectorating the sample), rinsing with one mouthful of water (e.g., vigorously moving water in mouth as if with mouth wash) and expectorating the rinse water, rating the sweetness intensity perceived immediately upon expectorating the rinse water, waiting 45 seconds and, while waiting those 45 seconds, identifying the time of maximum perceived sweetness intensity and rating the sweetness intensity at that time (moving the mouth normally and swallowing as needed), rating the sweetness intensity after another 10 seconds, rating the sweetness intensity after another 60 seconds (cumulative 120 seconds after rinse), and rating the sweetness intensity after still another 60 seconds (cumulative 180 seconds after rinse). Between samples take a 5 minute break, rinsing well with water to clear the mouth.

As used herein, the term carbohydrate generally refers to aldehyde or ketone compounds substituted with multiple hydroxyl groups, of the general formula (CH2O)n, wherein n is 3-30, as well as their oligomers and polymers. The carbohydrates of the present invention can, in addition, be substituted or deoxygenated at one or more positions. Carbohydrates, as used herein, encompass unmodified carbohydrates, carbohydrate derivatives, substituted carbohydrates, and modified carbohydrates. As used herein, the phrases carbohydrate derivatives, substituted carbohydrate, and modified carbohydrates are synonymous. Modified carbohydrate means any carbohydrate wherein at least one atom has been added, removed, substituted, or combinations thereof. Thus, carbohydrate derivatives or substituted carbohydrates include substituted and unsubstituted monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. The carbohydrate derivatives or substituted carbohydrates optionally can be deoxygenated at any corresponding C-position, and/or substituted with one or more moieties such as hydrogen, halogen, haloalkyl, carboxyl, acyl, acyloxy, amino, amido, carboxyl derivatives, alkylamino, dialkylamino, arylamino, alkoxy, aryloxy, nitro, cyano, sulfo, mercapto, imino, sulfonyl, sulfenyl, sulfinyl, sulfamoyl, carboalkoxy, carboxamido, phosphonyl, phosphinyl, phosphoryl, phosphino, thioester, thioether, oximino, hydrazino, carbamyl, phospho, phosphonato, or any other viable functional group provided the carbohydrate derivative or substituted carbohydrate functions to improve the sweet taste of at least one natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweetener.

Non-limiting examples of carbohydrates in embodiments of this invention include tagatose, trehalose, galactose, rhamnose, cyclodextrin (e.g., -cyclodextrin, -cyclodextrin, and -cyclodextrin), maltodextrin (including resistant maltodextrins such as Fibersol-2), dextran, sucrose, glucose, ribulose, fructose, threose, arabinose, xylose, lyxose, allose, altrose, mannose, idose, lactose, maltose, invert sugar, isotrehalose, neotrehalose, isomaltulose, erythrose, deoxyribose, gulose, idose, talose, erythrulose, xylulose, psicose, turanose, cellobiose, amylopectin, glucosamine, mannosamine, fucose, glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, glucono-lactone, abequose, galactosamine, beet oligosaccharides, isomalto-oligosaccharides (isomaltose, isomaltotriose, panose and the like), xylo-oligosaccharides (xylotriose, xylobiose and the like), gentio-oligoscaccharides (gentiobiose, gentiotriose, gentiotetraose and the like), sorbose, nigero-oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides (kestose, nystose and the like), maltotetraol, maltotriol, malto-oligosaccharides (maltotriose, maltotetraose, maltopentaose, maltohexaose, maltoheptaose and the like), lactulose, melibiose, raffinose, rhamnose, ribose, isomerized liquid sugars such as high fructose corn/starch syrup (e.g., HFCS55, HFCS42, or HFCS90), coupling sugars, soybean oligosaccharides, and glucose syrup. Additionally, the carbohydrates as used herein may be in either the D- or L-configuration.

The term polyol, as used herein, refers to a molecule that contains more than one hydroxyl group. A polyol may be a diol, triol, or a tetraol which contain 2, 3, and 4 hydroxyl groups, respectively. A polyol also may contain more than four hydroxyl groups, such as a pentaol, hexaol, heptaol, or the like, which contain, 5, 6, or 7 hydroxyl groups, respectively. Additionally, a polyol also may be a sugar alcohol, polyhydric alcohol, or polyalcohol which is a reduced form of carbohydrate, wherein the carbonyl group (aldehyde or ketone, reducing sugar) has been reduced to a primary or secondary hydroxyl group.

Non-limiting examples of sweet taste improving polyol additives in embodiments of this invention include erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, lactitol, xylitol, inositol, isomalt, propylene glycol, glycerol (glycerine), threitol, galactitol, reduced isomalto-oligosaccharides, reduced xylo-oligosaccharides, reduced gentio-oligosaccharides, reduced maltose syrup, reduced glucose syrup, and sugar alcohols or any other carbohydrates capable of being reduced which do not adversely affect the taste of the at least one natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweetener or the orally ingestible composition.

Suitable sweet taste improving amino acid additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, aspartic acid, arginine, glycine, glutamic acid, proline, threonine, theanine, cysteine, cystine, alanine, valine, tyrosine, leucine, isoleucine, asparagine, serine, lysine, histidine, ornithine, methionine, carnitine, aminobutyric acid (alpha-, beta-, or gamma-isomers), glutamine, hydroxyproline, taurine, norvaline, sarcosine, and their salt forms such as sodium or potassium salts or acid salts. The sweet taste improving amino acid additives also may be in the D- or L-configuration. The amino acid derivatives also may be di- and tri-peptides from a single or two or three different amino acids. Additionally, the amino acids may be -, -, -, -, and -isomers if appropriate. Combinations of the foregoing amino acids and their corresponding salts (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium salts or other alkali or alkaline earth metal salts thereof, or acid salts) also are suitable sweet taste improving additives in embodiments of this invention. The amino acids may be natural or synthetic. The amino acids also may be modified. Modified amino acids refers to any amino acid wherein at least one atom has been added, removed, substituted, or combinations thereof (e.g., N-alkyl amino acid, N-acyl amino acid, or N-methyl amino acid). Non-limiting examples of modified amino acids include amino acid derivatives such as trimethyl glycine, N-methyl-glycine, and N-methyl-alanine. As used herein, amino acids encompass both modified and unmodified amino acids. As used herein, modified amino acid also may encompass peptides and polypeptides (e.g., dipeptides, tripeptides, tetrapeptides, and pentapeptides) such as glutathione and L-alanyl-L-glutamine.

Suitable sweet taste improving polyamino acid additives include poly-L-aspartic acid, poly-L-lysine (e.g., poly-L--lysine or poly-L--lysine), poly-L-ornithine (e.g., poly-L--ornithine or poly-L--ornithine), poly-L-arginine, other polymeric forms of amino acids, and salt forms thereof (e.g., magnesium, calcium, potassium, or sodium salts such as L-glutamic acid mono sodium salt). The sweet taste improving polyamino acid additives also may be in the D- or L-configuration. Additionally, the polyamino acids may be -, -, -, -, and -isomers if appropriate. Combinations of the foregoing polyamino acids and their corresponding salts (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium salts or other alkali or alkaline earth metal salts thereof or acid salts) also are suitable sweet taste improving additives in embodiments of this invention. The polyamino acids described herein also may comprise co-polymers of different amino acids. The polyamino acids may be natural or synthetic. The polyamino acids also may be modified, such that at least one atom has been added, removed, substituted, or combinations thereof (e.g., N-alkyl polyamino acid or N-acyl polyamino acid). As used herein, polyamino acids encompass both modified and unmodified polyamino acids. In accordance with particular embodiments, modified polyamino acids include, but are not limited to polyamino acids of various molecular weights (MW), such as poly-L--lysine with a MW of 1,500, MW of 6,000, MW of 25,200, MW of 63,000, MW of 83,000, or MW of 300,000.

Suitable sweet taste improving sugar acid additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, aldonic, uronic, aldaric, alginic, gluconic, glucuronic, glucaric, galactaric, galacturonic, and their salts (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium salts or other physiologically acceptable salts), and combinations thereof.

Suitable sweet taste improving nucleotide additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, inosine monophosphate (IMP), guanosine monophosphate (GMP), adenosine monophosphate (AMP), cytosine monophosphate (CMP), uracil monophosphate (UMP), inosine diphosphate, guanosine diphosphate, adenosine diphosphate, cytosine diphosphate, uracil diphosphate, inosine triphosphate, guanosine triphosphate, adenosine triphosphate, cytosine triphosphate, uracil triphosphate, and their alkali or alkaline earth metal salts, and combinations thereof. The nucleotides described herein also may comprise nucleotide-related additives, such as nucleosides or nucleic acid bases (e.g., guanine, cytosine, adenine, thymine, uracil).

Suitable sweet taste improving organic acid additives include any compound which comprises a COOH moiety. Suitable sweet taste improving organic acid additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, C2-C30 carboxylic acids, substituted hydroxyl C1-C30 carboxylic acids, benzoic acid, substituted benzoic acids (e.g. 2,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid), substituted cinnamic acids, hydroxyacids, substituted hydroxybenzoic acids, substituted cyclohexyl carboxylic acids, tannic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, gluconic acid, glucoheptonic acids, adipic acid, hydroxycitric acid, malic acid, fruitaric acid (a blend of malic, fumaric, and tartaric acids), fumaric acid, maleic acid, succinic acid, chlorogenic acid, salicylic acid, creatine, glucosamine hydrochloride, glucono delta lactone, caffeic acid, bile acids, acetic acid, ascorbic acid, alginic acid, erythorbic acid, polyglutamic acid, and their alkali or alkaline earth metal salt derivatives thereof. In addition, the sweet taste improving organic acid additives also may be in either the D- or L-configuration.

Suitable sweet taste improving organic acid salt additives include, but are not limited to, sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium salts of all organic acids, such as salts of citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, fumaric acid, lactic acid (e.g., sodium lactate), alginic acid (e.g., sodium alginate), ascorbic acid (e.g., sodium ascorbate), benzoic acid (e.g., sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate), and adipic acid. The examples of the sweet taste improving organic acid salt additives described optionally may be substituted with one or more of the following moieties selected from the group consisting of hydrogen, alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl, halo, haloalkyl, carboxyl, acyl, acyloxy, amino, amido, carboxyl derivatives, alkylamino, dialkylamino, arylamino, alkoxy, aryloxy, nitro, cyano, sulfo, thiol, imine, sulfonyl, sulfenyl, sulfinyl, sulfamyl, carboxalkoxy, carboxamido, phosphonyl, phosphinyl, phosphoryl, phosphino, thioester, thioether, anhydride, oximino, hydrazino, carbamyl, phospho, phosphonato, and any other viable functional group, provided the substituted organic acid salt additive functions to improve the sweet taste of the at least one natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweetener.

Suitable sweet taste improving inorganic acid additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, phosphoric acid, phosphorus acid, polyphosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, carbonic acid, sodium dihydrogen phosphate, and their corresponding alkali or alkaline earth metal salts thereof.

Suitable sweet taste improving bitter compound additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, caffeine, quinine, urea, bitter orange oil, naringin, quassia, and salts thereof.

Suitable sweet taste improving flavorant and flavoring ingredient additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, vanillin, vanilla extract, mango extract, cinnamon, citrus, coconut, ginger, viridiflorol, almond, menthol (including menthol without mint), grape skin extract, and grape seed extract. Flavorant and flavoring ingredient are synonymous, and include natural or synthetic substances or combinations thereof. Flavorants also include any other substance which imparts flavor, and may include natural or non-natural (synthetic) substances which are safe for human or animals when used in a generally accepted range. Non-limiting examples of proprietary flavorants may include Dhler Natural Flavoring Sweetness Enhancer K14323 (Dhler, Darmstadt, Germany), Symrise Natural Flavor Mask for Sweeteners 161453 and 164126 (Symrise, Holzminden, Germany), Natural Advantage Bitterness Blockers 1, 2, 9 and 10 (Natural Advantage, Freehold, N.J., U.S.A.), and Sucramask (Creative Research Management, Stockton, Calif., U.S.A.).

Suitable sweet taste improving polymer additives for use in embodiments of this invention may include, but are not limited to, chitosan, pectin, pectic, pectinic, polyuronic and polygalacturonic acid, starch, food hydrocolloid or crude extracts thereof (e.g., gum acacia senegal (Fibergum), gum acacia seyal, carageenan), poly-L-lysine (e.g., poly-L--lysine or poly-L--lysine), poly-L-ornithine (e.g., poly-L--ornithine or poly-L--ornithine), polyarginine, polypropylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, poly(ethylene glycol methyl ether), polyaspartic acid, polyglutamic acid, polyethyleneimine, alginic acid, sodium alginate, propylene glycol alginate, sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) and its salts, and sodium polyethyleneglycolalginate and other cationic and anionic polymers.

Suitable sweet taste improving protein or protein hydrolysate additives for use in embodiments of this invention may include, but are not limited to, bovine serum albumin (BSA), whey protein (including fractions or concentrates thereof such as 90% instant whey protein isolate, 34% whey protein, 50% hydrolyzed whey protein, and 80% whey protein concentrate), soluble rice protein, soy protein, protein isolates, protein hydrolysates, reaction products of protein hydrolysates, glycoproteins, and/or proteoglycans containing amino acids (e.g., glycine, alanine, serine, threonine, asparagine, glutamine, arginine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, norvaline, methionine, proline, tyrosine, hydroxyproline, and the like), collagen (e.g., gelatin), partially hydrolyzed collagen (e.g., hydrolyzed fish collagen), and collagen hydrolysates (e.g., porcine collagen hydrolysate).

Suitable sweet taste improving surfactant additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, polysorbates (e.g., polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate (polysorbate 80), polysorbate 20, polysorbate 60), sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, dioctyl sulfosuccinate or dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium, sodium dodecyl sulfate, cetylpyridinium chloride (hexadecylpyridinium chloride), hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide, sodium cholate, carbamoyl, choline chloride, sodium glycocholate, sodium taurodeoxycholate, lauric arginate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium taurocholate, lecithins, sucrose oleate esters, sucrose stearate esters, sucrose palmitate esters, sucrose laurate esters, and other emulsifiers, and the like.

Suitable sweet taste improving flavonoid additives for use in embodiments of this invention generally are classified as flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, isoflavones, or anthocyanidins. Non-limiting examples of flavonoid additives include catechins (e.g., green tea extracts such as Polyphenon 60, Polyphenon 30, and Polyphenon 25 (Mitsui Norin Co., Ltd., Japan), polyphenols, rutins (e.g., enzyme modified rutin Sanmelin AO (San-Ei Gen F.F.I., Inc., Osaka, Japan)), neohesperidin, naringin, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone, and the like.

Suitable sweet taste improving alcohol additives for use in embodiments of this invention include, but are not limited to, ethanol.

Suitable sweet taste improving astringent compound additives include, but are not limited to, tannic acid, europium chloride (EuCl3), gadolinium chloride (GdCl3), terbium chloride (TbCl3), alum, tannic acid, and polyphenols (e.g., tea polyphenols).

Suitable sweet taste improving vitamins include nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) and pyridoxal hydrochloride (Vitamin B6).

The sweet taste improving compositions also may comprise other natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweeteners. For example, wherein the sweetener composition comprises at least one NHPS, the at least one sweet taste improving composition may comprise a synthetic high-potency sweetener, non-limiting examples of which include sucralose, potassium acesulfame, aspartame, alitame, saccharin, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone, cyclamate, neotame, N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)propyl]-L--aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester, N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-3-methylbutyl]-L--aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester, N-[N-[3-(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)propyl]-L--aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester, salts thereof, and the like.

The sweet taste improving compositions also may be in salt form which may be obtained using standard procedures well known in the art. The term salt also refers to complexes that retain the desired chemical activity of the sweet taste improving compositions of the present invention and are safe for human or animal consumption in a generally acceptable range. Alkali metal (for example, sodium or potassium) or alkaline earth metal (for example, calcium or magnesium) salts also can be made. Salts also may include combinations of alkali and alkaline earth metals. Non-limiting examples of such salts are (a) acid addition salts formed with inorganic acids and salts formed with organic acids on their addition to organic bases; (b) base addition salts formed with metal cations such as calcium, bismuth, barium, magnesium, aluminum, copper, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, sodium, potassium, and the like, or with a cation formed from ammonia, N,N-dibenzylethylenediamine, D-glucosamine, tetraethylammonium, or ethylenediamine on their addition to organic acids; or (c) combinations of (a) and (b). Thus, any salt forms which may be derived from the sweet taste improving compositions may be used with the embodiments of the present invention as long as the salts of the sweet taste improving additives do not adversely affect the taste of the sweetener composition. The salt forms of the additives can be added to the natural and/or synthetic sweetener composition in the same amounts as their acid or base forms.

In particular embodiments, suitable sweet taste improving inorganic salts useful as sweet taste improving additives include, but are not limited to, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium sulfate, potassium citrate, europium chloride (EuCl3), gadolinium chloride (GdCl3), terbium chloride (TbCl3), magnesium sulfate, alum, magnesium chloride, mono-, di-, tri-basic sodium or potassium salts of phosphoric acid (e.g., inorganic phosphates), salts of hydrochloric acid (e.g., inorganic chlorides), sodium carbonate, sodium bisulfate, and sodium bicarbonate. Furthermore, in particular embodiments, suitable organic salts useful as sweet taste improving additives include, but are not limited to, choline chloride, alginic acid sodium salt (sodium alginate), glucoheptonic acid sodium salt, gluconic acid sodium salt (sodium gluconate), gluconic acid potassium salt (potassium gluconate), guanidine HCl, glucosamine HCl, monosodium glutamate (MSG), adenosine monophosphate salt, magnesium gluconate, potassium tartrate (monohydrate), and sodium tartrate (dihydrate).

III. Tabletop Sweetener Delivery Formulations

The delivery forms described hereinabove desirably comprise tabletop sweeteners. Tabletop sweeteners are embodied and packaged in numerous different forms, and it is intended that embodiments of tabletop sweetener compositions may be of any form known in the art. For example, the delivery systems described hereinabove may be used to prepare tabletop sweetener compositions in powder form, granular form, packets, tablets, sachets, pellets, cubes, solids, and liquids.

In an embodiment, a tabletop sweetener composition comprises a single-serving (portion control) packet comprising a dry-blend of a natural high-potency sweetener formulation. Dry-blend formulations generally may comprise powder or granules. Although the tabletop sweetener packet may be of any size, an illustrative non-limiting example of conventional portion control tabletop sweetener packets are approximately 2.5 by 1.5 inches and hold approximately 1 gram of a sweetener composition having a sweetness equivalent to 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar (8 g). The amount of natural high-potency sweetener in a dry-blend tabletop sweetener formulation will vary due to the varying potency of different natural high-potency sweeteners. In a particular embodiment, a dry-blend tabletop sweetener formulation may comprise a natural high-potency sweetener in an amount from about 1% (w/w) to about 10% (w/w) of the tabletop sweetener composition.

Solid tabletop sweetener embodiments include cubes and tablets. A non-limiting example of conventional cubes are equivalent in size to a standard cube of granulated sugar, which is approximately 2.22.22.2 cm3 and weigh approximately 8 g. In one embodiment, a solid tabletop sweetener is in the form of a tablet or any other form known to those skilled in the art.

A tabletop sweetener composition also may be embodied in the form of a liquid, wherein the natural high-potency sweetener is combined with a liquid carrier. Suitable non-limiting examples of carrier agents for liquid tabletop sweeteners include water, alcohol, polyol, glycerin base or citric acid base dissolved in water, and mixtures thereof. Due to the varying potencies of the different natural high-potency sweeteners, the amount of natural high-potency sweetener in a liquid tabletop sweetener formulation also will vary. The sweetness equivalent of a tabletop sweetener composition for any of the forms described herein or known in the art may be varied to obtain a desired sweetness profile. For example, a tabletop sweetener composition may comprise a sweetness comparable to that of an equivalent amount of standard sugar. In another embodiment, the tabletop sweetener composition may comprise a sweetness of up to 100 times that of an equivalent amount of sugar. In another embodiment, the tabletop sweetener composition may comprise a sweetness of up to 90 times, 80 times, 70 times, 60 times, 50 times, 40 times, 30 times, 20 times, 10 times, 9 times, 8 times, 7 times, 6 times, 5 times, 4 times, 3 times, and 2 times that of an equivalent amount of sugar.

In one embodiment, the tabletop sweetener composition also may be formulated for targeted uses, for example, in beverage, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, herbal/vitamins, tobacco, and in any other products which may be sweetened. For example, a tabletop sweetener composition for baking may be formulated having additional protecting agents, such as encapsulants. Other forms will be readily apparent to those skilled in the tabletop sweetener art.

Those skilled in the art appreciate that the amount of natural high-potency sweetener and amount of bulking agent and/or anti-caking agent, can be modified in order to tailor the taste of the tabletop sweetener composition to a desired profile and end use.

Embodiments of the sweet taste improving compositions of this invention can impart a more sharp and clean sensation to the taste of natural high-potency sweetener. Furthermore, embodiments of the sweet taste improving compositions of the present invention have a superior effect in improving the temporal and/or flavor profile of a natural high-potency sweetener while at the same time providing a sweetener composition with a low-caloric or non-caloric content, imparting more sugar-like characteristics.

The desired weight ratio of a natural high-potency sweetener to bulking agent and/or anti-caking agent will depend on the natural high-potency sweetener, and the sweetness and other characteristics desired in the final tabletop sweetener composition. Natural high-potency sweeteners vary greatly in their potency, ranging from about 30 times more potent than sucrose to about 8,000 times more potent than sucrose on a weight basis. In general, the weight ratio of a natural high-potency sweetener to bulking agent and/or anti-caking agent may, for example, range from between 10,000:1 to about 1:10,000; a further non-limiting example may range from about 9,000:1 to about 1:9,000; yet another example may range from about 8,000:1 to about 1:8,000; a further example may range from about 7,000:1 to about 1:7,000; another example may range from about 6,000:1 to about 1:6000; in yet another example may range from about 5,000:1 to about 1:5,000; in yet another example may range from about 4,000:1 to about 1:4,000; in yet another example may range from about 3,000:1 to about 1:3,000; in yet another example may range from about 2,000:1 to about 1:2,000; in yet another example may range from about 1,500:1 to about 1:1,500; in yet another example may range from about 1,000:1 to about 1:1,000; in yet another example may range from about 900:1 to about 1:900; in yet another example may range from about 800:1 to about 1:800; in yet another example may range from about 700:1 to about 1:700; in yet another example may range from about 600:1 to about 1:600; in yet another example may range from about 500:1 to about 1:500; in yet another example may range from about 400:1 to about 1:400; in yet another example may range from about 300:1 to about 1:300; in yet another example may range from about 200:1 to about 1:200; in yet another example may range from about 150:1 to about 1:150; in yet another example may range from about 100:1 to about 1 :100; in yet another example may range from about 90:1 to about 1:90; in yet another example may range from about 80:1 to about 1:80; in yet another example may range from about 70:1 to about 1:70; in yet another example may range from about 60:1 to about 1:60; in yet another example may range from about 50:1 to about 1:50; in yet another example may range from about 40:1 to about 1:40; in yet another example may range from about 30:1 to about 1:30; in yet another example may range from about 20:1 to about 1:20; in yet another example may range from about 15:1 to about 1:15; in yet another example may range from about 10:1 to about 1:10; in yet another example may range from about 9:1 to about 1:9; in yet another example may range from about 8:1 to about 1:8; in yet another example may range from about 7:1 to about 1:7; in yet another example may range from about 6:1 to about 1:6; in yet another example may range from about 5:1 to about 1:5; in yet another example may range from about 4:1 to about 1:4; in yet another example may range from about 3:1 to about 1:3; in yet another example may range from about 2:1 to about 1:2; and in yet another example may be about 1:1; depending on the particular natural high-potency sweetener selected.

Specific embodiments of tabletop sweetener compositions and methods of making tabletop sweetener compositions are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/555,962, filed on Nov. 2, 2006, by Prakash, et al., the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The present invention is further illustrated by the following example, which is not to be construed in any way as imposing limitations upon the scope thereof. On the contrary, it is to be clearly understood that resort may be had to various other embodiments, modifications, and equivalents thereof which, after reading the description therein, may suggest themselves to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention and/or the scope of the appended claims.

EXAMPLES

Example Set A

Example A1

Sugar Co-Crystallized Sweetener Composition

0.25% Rebaudioside A, 150.0 g sucrose, and 30.0 g water were mixed on a Dispermat. The solution was heated to 108 C. and an additional 10.0 g water was added after 13 minutes. The solution was removed from the heat, seeded with 0.3 g rebaudioside A and 5.0 g sucrose dry-mixed together. The mixture was removed from the Dispermat and transferred to a Hobart mixer for further mixing (approximately 2 minutes). The resulting product was a sugar co-crystallized rebaudioside A composition.

Example A2

Agglomerated Sweetener Composition

A rebaudioside A/dextrose agglomerate was prepared using maltodextrin as the binder. 1500 g of Rebaudioside A was dissolved in 30.0 kg of water-ethanol (1:1 by weight). 600 g of maltodextrin was dissolved separately in 10.0 kg of water. The two solutions were combined and heated to 40 C. 20.0 kg of dextrose was charged into a removable bowl of a batch fluid bed agglomeration unit. The dextrose was fluidized and heated to 40 C. by adjusting the inlet air temperature of the agglomeration unit to between 70 C. and 75 C. The rebaudioside A/maltodextrin solution was sprayed onto the fluidized dextrose at a spray rate of 200 mL/min. The atomization air pressure was maintained at 2.5 bar.

Example A3

Spheroid Sweetener Composition

Rebaudioside A (80 wt %), water (15 wt %), and polyvinylpyrollidone (5 wt %) were manually mixed and kneaded. The mixture was extruded using a low pressure extruder with a 0.8 mm die (model DC-L1, LCI). The extrudates were spheronized in a marumerizer (model QJ-400, LCI) for 30 seconds, resulting in good spheres with no clubs. These spheres were dried in a fluid bed dryer at 50 C. The spheres did not disintegrate in the dryer and remained intact following shipment. The moisture content of the spherical particles was 5.1%, as measured by Karl Fischer titration. The dissolution rate of the particles was: 670 ppm in 20 C. water in 1.5 minutes. A rebaudioside A assay showed that the rebaudioside A survived the process with minimal formation of degradants.

Example Set B

TABLE 2 Summary of Examples B1-3 Crude Solvent HPLC Rebaudioside A Ethanol Methanol Water Heating Drying Yield Purity (g) (95%) (mL) (99%) (mL) (mL) T ( C.) T ( C.) (g) (wt/wt %) B1 400 1200 400 320 50 50 130 98.9 B2 100 320 120 50 30-40 60 72 98.3 B3 50 160 60 25 ~30 60 27.3 98.2

Example B1

Crude rebaudioside A (77.4% purity) mixture was obtained from a commercial source. The impurities (6.2% stevioside, 5.6% rebaudioside C, 0.6% rebauiodioside F, 3.0% rebaudioside D, 4.9% rebaudioside B, 0.3% steviolbioside, and 1.0% other steviolglycosides) were identified and quantified using HPLC on a dry basis (moisture content 4.7%).

Crude rebaudioside A (400 g), ethanol (95%, 1200 mL), methanol (99%, 400 mL) and water (320 mL) were combined and heated to 50 C. for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 16 hours. The white crystals were filtered and washed twice with ethanol (2200 mL, 95%) and dried in a vacuum oven at 50 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm).

The final composition of substantially pure rebaudioside A (130 g) comprised 98.91% rebaudioside A, 0.06% stevioside, 0.03% rebaudioside C, 0.12% rebaudioside F, 0.1% rebaudioside D, 0.49% rebaudioside B, 0.03% steviolbioside, and 0.13% other steviolglycosides, all by weight.

Example B2

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37%) was obtained from a commercial source. The impurities (6.22% stevioside, 2.28% rebaudioside C, 0.35% dulcoside A, 0.78% rebaudioside F, 3.33% rebaudioside B, 0.07% steviolbioside, and 0.72% other steviolglycosides) were identified by HPLC on dry basis (moisture content 3.4%).

Crude rebaudioside A (100 g), ethanol (95%, 320 mL), methanol (99%, 120 mL) and water (50 mL) were combined and heated to 30-40 C. for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 16 hours. The white crystals were filtered and washed twice with ethanol (250 mL, 95%). The wet filter cake (88 g) was slurried in ethanol (95%, 1320 mL) for 16 hours, filtered, washed with ethanol (95%, 2100 mL) and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm).

The final composition of substantially pure rebaudioside A (72 g) comprised 98.29% rebaudioside A, 0.03% stevioside, 0.02% rebaudioside C, 0.17% rebaudioside F, 0.06% rebaudioside D and 1.09% rebaudioside B. Steviolbioside was not detected by HPLC.

Example B3

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37%) was obtained from a commercial source. The impurities (6.22% stevioside, 2.28% rebaudioside C, 0.35% dulcoside A, 0.78% rebaudioside F, 3.33% rebaudioside B, 0.07% steviolbioside, and 0.72% other steviolglycosides) were identified by HPLC on dry basis (moisture content 3.4%).

Crude rebaudioside A (50 g), ethanol (95%, 160 mL), methanol (99%, 60 mL) and water (25 mL) were combined and heated to approximately 30 C. for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 16 hours. The white crystals were filtered and washed twice with ethanol (225 mL, 95% ). The wet filter cake (40 g) was slurried in methanol (99%, 600 mL) for 16 hours, filtered, washed with methanol (99%, 225 mL) and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm).

The final composition of substantially pure rebaudioside A (27.3 g) comprised 98.22% rebaudioside A, 0.04% stevioside, 0.04% rebaudioside C, 0.18% rebaudioside F, 0.08% rebaudioside D and 1.03% rebaudioside B. Steviolbioside was not detected by HPLC.

Example Set C

TABLE 3 Summary of Examples C1-3 Solvent Crude Organic HPLC Rebaudioside Ethanol Co-solvent Water Yield Purity A (g) (95%) (mL) (mL) (mL) Wash Solvent (g) (%) C1 5 15 Methanol (6) 3.5 EtOH/MeOH 2.6 99 (3:1 v/v) C2 5 15 Methanol (5) 4 EtOH/MeOH 2.3 99 (3:1 v/v) C3 5 16 Methanol (6) 2.5 *EtOH/MeOH 3.2 98 (8:3 v/v)

Example C1

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37% purity, 5 g), ethanol (95%, 15 mL), methanol (5 mL) and water (3.5 mL) were combined and heated to reflux for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 16 hours while stirring. The white crystalline product was filtered, washed twice with an ethanol:methanol (5.0 mL, 3:1, v/v) mixture and dried in a vacuum oven at 50 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 2.6 g of purified product (99% by HPLC).

Example C2

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37% purity, 5 g), ethanol (95%, 15 mL), methanol (5 mL) and water (4.0 mL) were combined and heated to reflux for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 16 hours while stirring. The white crystalline product was filtered, washed twice with an ethanol:methanol (5.0 mL, 3:1, v/v) mixture and dried in a vacuum oven at 50 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 2.3 g of purified product (99% by HPLC).

Example C3

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37% purity, 5 g), ethanol (95%, 16 mL), methanol (6 mL) and water (2.5 mL) were combined and heated to reflux for 10 minutes. The clear solution was cooled to 22 C. for 2 hours. During this time, crystals started to appear. The mixture is stirred at room temperature for 16 hours. The white crystalline product was filtered, washed twice with an ethanol:methanol (5.0 mL, 8:3, v/v) mixture and dried in a vacuum oven at 50 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 3.2 g of purified product (98% by HPLC).

Example D

TABLE 4 Summary of Example D Solvent Crude Organic HPLC Rebaudioside Solvent Water Wash Yield Purity A (g) (mL) (mL) Solvent (g) (%) D 50 EtOH (160) 40 EtOH 19.8 99.5

Crude rebaudioside A (80.37% purity, 50 g), ethanol (95%, 160 mL) and water (40 mL) were combined and heated to reflux for 30 minutes. The mixture was then allowed to cool to ambient temperature for 16-24 hours. The white crystalline product was filtered, washed twice with ethanol (95%, 25 mL), and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 19.8 g of purified product (99.5% by HPLC).

Example Set E

TABLE 5 Summary of Examples E1-3 Crude Organic Methanol HPLC Rebaudioside A Ethanol Co-solvent Water Slurry Yield Purity (g) (95%) (mL) (mL) (mL) (mL) (g) (%) E1 50 160 Methanol 25 200 12.7 97 (60) E2 50 160 Methanol 25 300 18.6 97 (60) E3 50 160 Methanol 25 350 22.2 97 (60)

Example E1

Crude rebaudioside A (41% purity, 50 g), ethanol (95%, 160 mL), methanol (99.8%, 60 mL) and water (25 mL) were combined by stirring at 22 C. A white product crystallized out in 5-20 hours. The mixture was stirred for additional 48 hours. The white crystalline product was filtered and washed twice with ethanol (95%, 25 mL). The wet cake of white crystalline product then was slurried in methanol (99.8%, 200 mL) for 16 hours, filtered, washed twice with methanol (99.8%, 25 mL), and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 12.7 g of purified product (97% by HPLC).

Example E2

Crude rebaudioside A (48% purity, 50 g), ethanol (95%, 160 mL), methanol (99.8%, 60 mL) and water (25 mL) was combined by stirring at 22 C. The white product crystallized out in 3-6 hours. The mixture was stirred for additional 48 hours. The white crystalline product was filtered and washed twice with ethanol (95%, 25 mL). The wet cake of white crystalline product then was slurried in methanol (99.8%, 300 mL) for 16 hours, filtered, washed twice with methanol (99.8%, 25 mL) and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 18.6 g of purified product (97% by HPLC).

Example E3

Crude rebaudioside A (55% purity, 50 g), ethanol (95%, 160 mL), methanol (99.8%, 60 mL) and water (25 mL) was combined by stirring at 22 C. The white product crystallized out in 15-30 minutes. The mixture was stirred for an additional 48 hours. The white crystalline product was filtered and washed twice with ethanol (95%, 25 mL). The wet cake of white crystalline product was slurried in methanol (99.8%, 350 mL) for 16 hours, filtered, washed twice with methanol (99.8%, 25 mL) and dried in a vacuum oven at 60 C. for 16-24 hours under reduced pressure (20 mm) to yield 22.2 g of purified product (97% by HPLC).

Example F

A solution of rebaudioside A (97% pure by HPLC) was prepared in double distilled water (12.5 gm in 50 mL, 25% concentration) by stirring the mixture at 40 C. for 5 minutes. An amorphous rebaudioside form of A was formed by immediately using the clear solution for spray drying with the Lab-Plant spray drier SD-04 instrument (Lab-Plant Ltd., West Yorkshire, U.K.). The solution was fed through the feed pump into the nozzle atomizer which atomized it into a spray of droplets with the help of a constant flow of nitrogen/air. Moisture was evaporated from the droplets under controlled temperature conditions (about 90 to about 97 C.) and airflow conditions in the drying chamber and resulted in the formation of dry particles. This dry powder (11-12 g, H2O 6.74%) was discharged continuously from the drying chamber and was collected in a bottle. The material was dissolved rapidly in water at room temperature up to a concentration of 35.0% (w/v) in 5 minutes.

While the invention has been described in detail with respect to specific embodiments thereof it will be appreciated that those skilled in the art, upon attaining an understanding of the foregoing, may readily conceive of alterations to, variations oft and equivalents to these embodiments. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be assessed as that of the appended claims and any equivalents thereof.

Claims

1. A sweetener delivery system for sweetener compositions comprising at least one natural high-potency sweetener, wherein the delivery system is selected from the group consisting of a sugar or a polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition, an agglomerated sweetener composition, a co-dried sweetener composition, and a cyclodextrin complex of a sweetener composition.
2. The sweetener delivery system of claim 1, wherein the delivery system is the sugar or the polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition comprising the at least one natural high-potency sweetener and the sugar or the polyol.
3. The sweetener delivery system of claim 1, wherein the delivery system is an agglomerated sweetener composition and the agglomerated sweetener composition is a binder held agglomerate, an extrudate, or a granule.
4. The sweetener delivery system of claim 1, wherein the delivery system is the cyclodextrin complex of a sweetener composition comprising the at least one natural high-potency sweetener and -, -, or -cyclodextrin.
5. The sweetener delivery system of claim 1, wherein the sweetener composition further comprises a sweet taste improving composition.
6. The sweetener delivery system of claim 1, wherein the natural high-potency sweetener comprises rebaudioside A.
7. The sweetener delivery system of claim 6, wherein the sweetener composition further comprises erythritol.
8. The sweetener delivery system of claim 6, wherein the rebaudioside A has a purity from about 95% to about 100%.
9. A process for preparing a delivery form of a sweetener composition comprising at least one natural high-potency sweetener comprising co-crystallizing the sweetener composition with a sugar or a polyol, agglomerating the sweetener composition, co-drying the sweetener composition, or preparing a cyclodextrin complex with the sweetener composition.
10. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method of preparing the delivery form comprises preparation of the sugar or the polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition and the preparation of the sugar or the polyol co-crystallized sweetener composition comprises the steps of:
mixing a sugar or a polyol with water to form a mixture;
beating the mixture to a temperature of at least about 120 C.;
seeding the mixture with a premix comprising the sweetener composition and the sugar or the polyol; and
cooling the mixture.
mixing a sugar or a polyol with water to form a mixture;
beating the mixture to a temperature of at least about 120 C.;
seeding the mixture with a premix comprising the sweetener composition and the sugar or the polyol; and
cooling the mixture.
11. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method of preparing the delivery form comprises preparation of the agglomerated sweetener composition and the preparation of the agglomerated sweetener composition comprises the steps of:
providing a premix solution comprising the sweetener composition and a binding agent;
heating the premix solution to a temperature effective to mix the premix solution;
fluidizing a carrier; and
applying the premix solution onto the fluidized carrier to form an agglomerate comprising the high-potency sweetener composition and the carrier.
providing a premix solution comprising the sweetener composition and a binding agent;
heating the premix solution to a temperature effective to mix the premix solution;
fluidizing a carrier; and
applying the premix solution onto the fluidized carrier to form an agglomerate comprising the high-potency sweetener composition and the carrier.
12. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method of preparing the delivery form comprises preparation of the granular sweetener composition and the preparation of the granular sweetener composition comprises the steps of:
compacting the sweetener composition to form compacts; and
breaking up the compacts to form granules.
compacting the sweetener composition to form compacts; and
breaking up the compacts to form granules.
13. A process as in claim 12, further comprising screening the granules to obtain granules of the sweetener composition having a desired particle size.
14. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method of preparing the delivery form comprises preparation of the extrudate sweetener composition and the preparation of the extrudate sweetener composition comprises the steps of:
combining the sweetener composition, a plasticizer, and optionally a binder to form a wet mass;
extruding the wet mass to form extrudates; and
drying the extrudates to obtain extrudates of the sweetener composition.
combining the sweetener composition, a plasticizer, and optionally a binder to form a wet mass;
extruding the wet mass to form extrudates; and
drying the extrudates to obtain extrudates of the sweetener composition.
15. A process as in claim 14, further comprising spheronizing the extrudates by charging the extrudates into a marumerizer to obtain spheres.
16. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method of preparing the delivery form comprises the co-drying and the co-drying comprises drying the sweetener composition with a co-agent.
17. A process as in claim 9, wherein the method for preparing the delivery form is the preparation of the cyclodextrin complex with the sweetener composition and the preparation of the cyclodextrin complex comprises associating the sweetener composition with -, -, or -cyclodextrin.
18. A process as in claim 9, wherein the step of associating the sweetener composition with -, -, or -cyclodextrin comprises co-precipitation, slurry complexation, paste complexation, damp mixing and heating, or extrusion and dry mixing.