The Science and Technology Behind Chewing Gum Ingredients
A simple piece of chewing gum is actually an assembly of four primary components that, depending on ingredients selected, can produce virtually infinite varieties to please every pallet. Each of these components has been the subject of extensive study and research to ensure that it not only performs its intended function but, most important, is safe.
1. Gum Base
Chewing gum base is the non-nutritive, insoluble component of chewing gum that provides its basic “chewable” matrix, and it is formulated to gradually release flavors, sweeteners, and functional ingredients during sustained chewing. These “masticatory substances” may be made from natural or synthetic gums, to which are added various softeners, texturizers, and other functional ingredients. Gum base ingredients used by ICGA members have been tested for safety and are approved for use in chewing gum in conformance with applicable national laws where the chewing gum is manufactured or sold.
Whether it is fruit, mint, cinnamon, or something more exotic, a defining characteristic of any chewing gum is its flavor, and the variety of flavors of chewing gum available on the market is almost infinite. ICGA plays an important role in making this possible by working with national and international flavor organizations to ensure that the hundreds of flavors used in chewing gum are safe and approved for use at the levels needed to appropriately function. This is done through industry support of safety testing, preparation of published articles, industry usage surveys, and other activities designed to increase knowledge and understanding about the safety and function of flavors used by the industry.
Color is an important property of foods that adds enjoyment to eating. Reasons for adding color, whether natural or artificial, range from enhancement of colors that occur naturally in food, to supplying a visual identity to foods that would otherwise be virtually colorless. ICGA members use only food colors expressly approved under applicable national or international standards and regulations, which are grounded on rigorous testing to ensure safety.
Finally, the fourth major component of chewing gum is sweeteners, which are used in chewing gum for both their sweetening and flavor enhancement purposes. There are three basic types of sweeteners used in chewing gum. First, nutritive sweeteners are the traditional sugars that are used in sugared chewing gum product. Bulk sweeteners are sugar alcohols, which provide sweetness to gum products with virtually no calories, and, for the purposes of dental health, are non-cariogenic. Finally, intense sweeteners, such as aspartame, are calorie-free synthetic substances that provide sweetness at a far more concentrated level than nutritive or bulk sweeteners. Various combinations of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners are used as ingredients in chewing gum to achieve desired levels of sweetness and flavor notes. As they do with all ingredients and food additives, ICGA members commit that they will use only sweetening ingredients that are fully approved for such use in accordance with appropriate laws and regulations.