In 1977, the U.S. Congress passed a moratorium preventing a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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 that “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, U.S. President Clinton signed a bill that removed the warning label that had been required on saccharin-sweetened products since 1977. Government, scientists and industry are now all in agreement on saccharin’s safety.
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.” Congressional consideration is being given to changes in food safety law.
Saccharin has also faced an uphill battle for re-approval in Canada. In the 1970’s, due to allegations that consumption of saccharin led to increased risk of bladder tumors, the sweetener was banned for sale to humans in Canada. However, saccharin has been available for restricted access in Canada since this time.
Since the re-approval of saccharin in the U.S., stakeholders have continued to petition Health Canada to allow for the use of saccharin in products. In 2006, these stakeholders received notification from Health Canada that, after conducting a safety evaluation, Health Canada had determined saccharin to be safe and were proposing regulatory changes to allow saccharin to be used as an ingredient in products. As of 2013, Health Canada has begun to release notifications of proposed approval of saccharin in various foods.
The continued availability of saccharin will allow it to remain a valued ingredient in many low-calorie foods and beverages, as it has been for over a century.
[ More about regulators opinions of artificial sweetener Saccharin ]