Lactitol is manufactured from whey, the lactose (milk sugar) rich by-product of cheese making and processed dairy foods. Lactitol is slightly less than half as sweet as sugar and is considered to have 2 calories per gram, which has been accepted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Lactitol is not approved officially for use in food in the United States. However, U.S. food manufacturers may use lactitol since FDA has accepted the 1993 petition seeking this approval for chewing gum, hard and soft candies, and frozen dairy desserts.

Lactitol is used in a wide range of reduced-sugar or sugar-free foods, from baked goods and frozen dairy desserts to candies, chocolate confections and preserves. Lactitol is often mixed with artificial sweeteners.

In laboratory studies, lactitol has been shown to promote the growth of the two bacteria recognized to improve the health of the large intestine. As a result, the prebiotic potential of lactitol is sometimes highlighted for the foods using this sugar replacer.

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