Neohesperidine dihydrochalcone is a bitterness supressor and flavour modifier which also gives a very intense sweet taste. Neohesperidine DC is 1500-1800 times sweeter than sucrose at threshold concentrations.Currently, Neohesperidin DC (NHDC) is authorised for human consumption, either as a sweetener or as a flavour modifier, in many areas including all the countries within the European Union, USA, Australia and New Zealand, and several countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Besides its ample use as a food ingredient, recent developments have also paved the way for the use of Neohesperidin DC in those pharmaceutical products which need a taste improvement.
NHDC was discovered during the 1960s as part of a United States Department of Agriculture research program to find methods for minimizing the taste of bitter flavorants in citrus juices. Neohesperidin is one such bitter compound. When treated with potassium hydroxide or another strong base, and then catalytically hydrogenated, it becomes NHDC, a compound roughly 1500-1800 times sweeter than sugar at threshold concentrations; Around 340 times sweeter than sugar weight-for-weight. Its potency is naturally affected by such factors as the application in which it is used, and the pH of the product.
Like other highly sweet glycosides, such as glycyrrhizin and those found in stevia, NHDC's sweet taste has a slower onset than sugar's and lingers in the mouth for some time. Unlike aspartame, NHDC is stable to elevated temperatures and to acidic or basic conditions, and so can be used in applications that require a long shelf life. NHDC itself can stay foodsafe for up to five years when stored in optimal conditions.
The European Union approved NHDC's use as a sweetener in 1994. It has not been approved as a sweetener in the United States. It is sometimes said that NHDC is considered a Generally Recognized as Safe flavour enhancer by the Flavour and Extract Manufacturers' Association, which is a trade group with no legal standing. NHDC has never appeared on the FDA's GRAS listing.
It is particularly effective in masking the bitter tastes of other compounds found in citrus, including limonin and naringin. Industrially, it is produced by extracting neohesperidin from the bitter orange, and then hydrogenating this to make NHDC.