Any chemical that gives sweetness to food. Caloric sweeteners are various forms of sugar; noncaloric, or artificial, sweeteners are used by dieters and diabetics and provide neither energy nor bulk. Questions have been raised about the long-term health effects from several artificial sweeteners.
Sweeteners are used to make highly processed foods attractive, whether sweet or savory. Most of the noncaloric sweeteners do not have E numbers. Some are banned for baby foods and for young children: thaumatin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sorbitol, and mannitol. Cyclamate is banned in the US and the UK; acesulfame-K is banned in the US.