Significant facts about Saccharin as an artificial sweetener

Market Expertz   |     December 20, 2019


Saccharin is an artificial or non-nutritive sweetener. It is made in a laboratory by oxidizing the chemicals phthalic anhydride or o-toluene sulfonamide. It appears like white, crystalline powder. Saccharin is typically used as a sugar substitute as it doesn’t contain carbs or calories. Humans cannot break down saccharin, so it leaves your body completely unchanged. It is around 400–500 times sweeter than regular sugar, so you only need a little amount to get a sweet taste. Conversely, it can have an unlikable, bitter after-taste, which is why saccharin is often blended with other zero or low-calorie sweeteners. For instance, saccharin is sometimes mixed with aspartame, another low-calorie sweetener generally found in carbonated diet drinks.

Food manufacturers generally use saccharin as it is fairly stable as well as has a long shelf life. It is safe for consumption even after years of being stored. Apart from being added to carbonated diet drinks, saccharin is also used to sweeten low-calorie candies, jellies, jams, and cookies. It’s also used in several medicines. Saccharin can also be used as table sugar to sprinkle onto food, for instance, fruit or cereal, or can also be used as a sugar substitute in coffee or when baking. These are included by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, this wasn’t always the case, as in the 1970s, numerous studies in rats associated saccharin to the development of bladder cancer. It was then classified as likely to be cancerous to humans. However, further research discovered that cancer development in rats was not indicative of a similar effect on humans.

Observational research in humans showed no clear association between cancer risk and saccharin consumption. Due to the lack of real evidence associating saccharin to cancer development, its classification was changed to “not classifiable as cancerous to humans.” On the other hand, many experts feel observational studies are not adequate to rule out that there’s no risk and still suggest that people avoid saccharin.