On Tuesday, the EPA announced sweet news: it has finally removed saccharin, an artificial sweetener that was temporarily banned in 1977, from its list of hazardous substances.
Over the years, saccharin has had a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns through various regulatory agencies. After a 1977 study indicated that the sweetener caused bladder cancer in male rats exposed to high doses, the 1958 Delaney Clause of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was invoked to ban it. A public uproar ensued, and since saccharin was the only commercially available artificial sweetener at the time, many people — especially diabetics — were incensed by the news.
Congress acted quickly by overriding the FDA’s ban and instead instituted a moratorium on the ban for two years until further research could be conducted. This moratorium has remained in place until the EPA’s latest move to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability ACT (CERCLA, better known as the “Superfund” Law) to remove saccharin from its list of hazardous constituents and commercial chemical products that become hazardous wastes when discarded.
“I’d like to personally congratulate the EPA for finally catching up to the twentieth century,” quips ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “We live in hope that one day, the agency will enter the 21st, or be eliminated. Further, what relationship the EPA has to the regulation of saccharin is something I still don’t understand, but I’m glad that now I don’t need to get a guy in a Biohazard suit to throw away any of my excess artificial sweetener packages.”