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Feature Articles
 Best of the Low Carb Blogs
 Resolutions You Can Keep
 Cooking Low Carb Part One
 Cooking Low Carb Part Two
 Hot & Quick: Breakfast
 Saccharin: The Sweet Truth
 New Year's Quotes
 Quashing the Weather Excuse
 Truth About Vitamin E
 Want to Lose the Fat?


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      Saccharin: The Sweet Truth

From time to time, we get questions about artificial sweeteners here at Low Carb Luxury, but over the last few months, the most have been questions about the granddaddy of 'em all — Saccharin. So here's a little background and some info on its safety...

Saccharin was discovered in 1879 by Constantine Fahlberg, while working in the laboratory of Ira Remsen, quite by accident as were most other sweeteners. While working in the lab, he spilled a chemical on his hand. Later while eating dinner, Fahlberg noticed a more sweetness in the bread he was eating. He traced the sweetness back to the chemical, later named saccharin, by tasting various residues on his hands and clothes (unsanitary conditions) and finally chemicals in the lab (not a safe lab practice).

By 1907, saccharin was used as a replacement for sugar in foods for diabetics. Since it is not metabolized in the body for energy, saccharin is classified as a noncaloric sweetener. By the 1960s it was used on a massive scale in the "diet" soft drink industry.

Saccharin is the foundation for many low-calorie and sugar-free products around the world. It is used in table top sweeteners, baked goods, jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy, dessert toppings and salad dressings.

Saccharin also is one of the most studied food ingredients. Although the overall evidence indicates saccharin is safe for human consumption, there has been controversy over its safety in the past. The basis for the controversy rests primarily on findings of bladder tumors in some male rats fed high doses of sodium saccharin. Extensive research on human populations has established no association between saccharin and cancer. In fact, more than 30 human studies have been completed and support saccharin's safety at human levels of consumption.

The saccharin controversy initiated a long overdue review of U.S. food safety laws. It resulted in a food policy report from the National Academy of Sciences that recommends thorough revision of the U.S. food regulatory system, which the report describes as "complicated, inflexible and inconsistent in application."

In 1977, Congress passed a moratorium preventing an FDA-proposed saccharin ban. The moratorium has been extended seven times based on the scientific evidence, the counsel of qualified professionals, and the support of consumers. At a 1985 Senate hearing, then-FDA Commissioner Frank Young supported an extension of the moratorium, noting that FDA has less concern about saccharin than in 1977. The Commissioner added, "the actual risk, if any, of saccharin to humans still appears to be slight."

In 1991, the FDA formally withdrew its 1977 proposal to ban the use of saccharin. And, on December 21, 2000, then-President Clinton signed a bill that removes the warning label that had been required on saccharin-sweetened products in the U.S. since 1977. Government, scientists and industry are now all in agreement that saccharin is safe.

So if you're a fan of the "little pink packets," you can feel free to enjoy using them. Personally, we think that even though they can be bitter in many cooking applications, nothing's better in iced tea.


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