Washington/FDA -- The Food and Drug Administration has approved advantame, aspartame's intensely sweet cousin, to enter the U.S. food market. Advantame is the sixth artificial sweetener on the U.S. market to receive the FDA's blessing as a safe food additive.

Advantame joins five other artificial sweeteners: saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, neotame and acesulfame potassium. Advantame is 20,000 times sweeter, gram per gram, than table sugar, making it the sweetest, by far, of the bunch. (Aspartame, sucralose and saccharine range from 200-700 times sweeter than table sugar.) The white crystalline sweetener flows freely and dissolves in water.

Advantame does not break down under heat and is expected to be used to sweeten baked goods, dessert confections, jams and jellies, and syrups and toppings, as well as soft drinks. (The FDA said it is not for use in meat and poultry.) Unlike sugar, honey or molasses, advantame and the other "high-intensity" sweeteners it joins on the U.S. market add no substantial calories to the foods or drinks they flavor.