Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tagatose Again

Tagatose is a sugar with a glycemic index of 3, and it's also 92% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). Like sucrose, it's crystalline, and you can pretty much substitute it for sucrose tablespoon for tablespoon. Also, it browns like sugar.

I wrote more about tagatose and a related sugar called allulose here and here.

Thus tagatose has many appealing characteristics except that it's expensive.  When it first became available in the early 2000s, mostly in Europe, I was thrilled. But the availability didn't last, and in 2006, the only company making it decided it wasn't economically feasible.

Now researchers have reported that they could engineer yeast to produce tagatose with much greater efficiency than the traditional methods. Chemists might enjoy the original article, which has more details.

"For example, rare sugars such as tagatose and allulose are currently produced by enzymatic reactions followed by complicated separation processes. As a result, the production costs of rare sugars are significantly higher than HFCS, which does not require additional separation. Due to this high production cost, introduction of rare sugars into foods and beverages has been hampered in spite of potential benefits of rare sugars."

It will be interesting to see if this new method makes it into commercial production.

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