Researchers Are Calling For Regulators to Reconsider Splenda®
Artificial sweeteners have been suspect for years, but now researchers in the US are targeting one in particular, calling for sucralose, more commonly known as Splenda®, to be reconsidered by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Sucralose is one of the most widely used artificial sweetener, due to its claims of being a healthier option than sugar. However, a recent study on rats, found when their bodies metabolize sucralose, they produce at least two hitherto unidentified fat-soluble compounds, whose effects are unknown. The fact that the compounds are fat-soluble means they’re more likely to linger in the body.
“That’s particularly interesting, given that the metabolism studies that the FDA’s approval were based on reported that ingested sucralose was not metabolized,” says Susan Schiffman, an adjunct professor at North Carolina State and co-author of the study.
In addition, the study found sucralose itself in rats’ fat stores up to two weeks after consumption.
“Based on previous studies, we know that sucralose can be passed on by nursing mothers in their breastmilk,” Schiffman says. “And, among other findings, we know that sucralose can reduce the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Our new study shows that sucralose is also creating metabolites whose potential health effects we know little or nothing about.”
The team says they followed the same protocol as the industry studies used to gain sucralose regulatory approval: They administered an average of 80.4 milligrams/kilogram/day to 10 rats over 40 days. Each day, the rats’ urine and feces were collected for analysis which continue for two more weeks post the initial 40 days. Following this, fatty tissue from the rats was collected to analyze.
But in the new study, researchers, from North Carolina State University and Avazyme Inc., used state-of-the-art techniques to detect both fat- and water-soluble metabolites. By contrast, they say, sucralose industry researchers used more dated techniques and tested for a much narrower range of metabolites during the studies on which the artificial sugar’s regulatory approval was based, thus not actually identifying what the body does with sucralose once ingested.
“As a result, we feel that it may be time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of sucralose,” Schiffman says.