Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or swingle, is a natural sweetener. The Southeast Asian fruit can taste up to 250 times sweeter than table sugar while containing zero calories.
This sweetness, combined with its low calorific content, has made it a particularly popular sugar alternative for people on low-carb, keto, or calorie-controlled diets.
Despite these perks, concerns over sweetener safety have led to legislation banning their use.
So, is monk fruit banned in the UK? What are the concerns around this natural sweetener? And what alternatives are available for anyone on special diets?
Is Monk Fruit Banned in the UK?
Whether or not monk fruit is banned in the UK is a confusing topic.
According to our research, monk fruit sweetener does appear to banned, though we couldn’t find any government source saying so explicitly.
Monk fruit sweetener has never been approved as a food additive in the United Kingdom.
The use of monk fruit as a sweetener is relatively new. It was first commerically developed by Procter & Gamble in the 1990s and was approved by the US food and drug administration (FDA) in 2010.
An application for the authorisation of monk fruit as a food additive was received by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) in 2017.
In response, the EFSA set out to determine whether or not monk fruit was safe for consumption. If so, it could be approved as an additive in the UK and Europe.
However, the results published in 2019 concluded that “the toxicity database on monk fruit extract is insufficient to conclude on the safety of the use of monk fruit extract as a food additive.”
In other words, the research didn’t find monk fruit safe or unsafe; more research is needed to determine the toxicity before approval is granted.
The UK still follows the EFSA’s rules even after Brexit, so any ban on the ingredient in the European Union would also apply in the UK.
However, there are a few online retailers selling monk fruit sweetener products in the UK:
These products usually only contain a small amount of monk fruit sweetener, and are mainly made up of erythritol.
Is Monk Fruit Sweetener Harmful?
Most banned food additives are prohibited due to health and safety concerns.
However, the concerns over monk fruit in Europe are based on a lack of conclusive evidence rather than explicit carcinogenic or toxic properties. In other words, there are no known dangers, just unconfirmed safety.
Indeed, monk fruit is currently permitted for use in more than 60 countries following extensive health evaluations, including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, and Japan.
Studies from these counties found no adverse effects in humans consuming up to 60 mg per 1 kg of body weight daily and no adverse effects in extremely high doses in animal studies. In fact, The only known danger of eating monk fruit is allergies.
Monk fruit allergies are rare and are more common in people allergic to pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and melons.
- Hives or rashes on the skin
- Breathing difficulties and wheezing
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Stomach pain and vomiting
- Swollen tongue
- Rapid or weakened heart rate
Which Sweeteners Are Legal in the UK?
Sweeteners are a great alternative to sugar for people with diabetes and oral decay as a low-calorie and low-carbohydrate option.
Research from the EFSA has indeed found several health benefits of consuming sweeteners in relation or oral health and blood sugar control.
As monk fruit sweetener is not legal in the United Kingdom, anyone needing a sugar alternative might be interested in learning about their other options.
According to the NHS, sweeteners approved for use in the UK include acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol, sucralose, stevia, and xylitol. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) also has a complete list of approved additives on its website.
Hannah is a freelance content writer passionate about natural health, mindfulness, and the environment. She shares her enthusiasm for a conscious lifestyle on Naturaler, inspiring others to take the steps towards a more natural and fulfilling life