The politics behind “sodium saccharide” has always left saccharin holding the bag.
Saccharin has never been proven to cause cancer in humans, and the FDA confirmed its safety when it removed the cancer warning in 2001. Saccharin’s history isn’t accurate, either, and its original discovery is more than meets the eye.
Before aspartame was discovered in the 1960s, saccharin was considered an authentically safe sugar substitute because it was THE only known alternative to traditional sugar. It was safely used in Europe and Asia during the sugar shortages in World War I and II.
Politics From The Beginning
In 1902, the newly formed Monsanto Chemical Company gained its reputation manufacturing saccharin, the company’s first product. From 1903 to 1905, their entire saccharin output was shipped to the new soft drink company in Georgia called Coca-Cola.
In 1904, Monsanto introduced caffeine and vanillin as products for the escalating soft drink industry. In 1917, the U.S. government filed suit over the safety of saccharin, but the lawsuit was filed at Monsanto’s request as a “test case.”
The suit was dismissed in 1925, ending the government’s unsuccessful attempt then to prove saccharin as harmful.
Saccharin And Cancer
In 1969 shortly after aspartame was discovered, physician and biochemist, Dr. Harry Waisman, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin and Director of the University’s Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Laboratories for Mental Retardation Research, approached G.D. Searle to conduct a study on the effects of aspartame on Phenylketonurics (PKU).
At this same time, Searle was conducting cancer studies on its competitor, saccharin, owned by Monsanto Chemical Company.
The laboratory rats used in the study were fed the equivalent of 600 to 800 cans of diet soda per day. The bulk of their feed was saccharin blended with cyclamate, a known carcinogen.
A cancerous tumor formed on one of the male lab rat’s bladder, and this result spawned an immediate request to ban saccharin due to “carcinogenic effects.” It was the cyclamate, however, that was the determined cause of the bladder tumor.
As a result of corporate and political negotiations in 1969, it was decided AT THAT TIME that a cancer warning would be put on saccharin labels, but the moratorium would be removed in the year 2000. The cancer warning was, indeed, taken off saccharin products in 2001, at the same time Splenda® came on the American market.
Interestingly, the cancer warning was never printed on saccharin labels until 1981, the year aspartame was finally FDA approved – 12 years later.
From Searle To Monsanto
In 1985, four years after NutraSweet/Equal had been on the market, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle Pharmaceuticals, taking the company deeper into the sweetener industry. NutraSweet, saccharin’s only competitor, was now owned and marketed by the same company – Monsanto.
Although saccharin is not the healthiest sweetener alternative today (due to man-made manufacturing), many nutritionists, including myself, still believe that it is the safest choice among the “colorful” sweetener packets dominating public tabletops.
If stevia isn’t around, choose “the pink packet.”