Sucralose Safety Confirmed Again

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Once again, the Ramazini Foundation published a study suggesting that the artificial sweetener sucralose causes cancer —specifically blood cancers — in mice. But a panel from the European Food Safety Authority analyzed that study and found that its conclusions were spurious and in no way should be construed to indict the sweetener. Can we say we told you so?

It's almost boring to keep telling people about the safety of sucralose and other approved sweeteners because we've done it so many times (for example here ). But for some reason, some folks don't want to leave the issue alone and keep trying to "prove" that these ingredients aren't safe, or cause cancer, and so on. One group that seems addicted to this meme is the Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, which has published generally disproven data indicting aspartame for  bogus health effects. So, recently they've attacked sucralose with similarly poor data.The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has now weighed in (in the EFSA Journal)  on the reliability of the Institute's latest effort. 

The  report was issued by the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS), and basically said that the data supplied by the Ramazzini Foundation in a paper by Soffritti, et. al. last year can not be construed to show a causal relationship between consumption of sucralose and the incidence of hematopoietic cancers (leukemia and lymphomas). There were four main reasons for the EFSA panel conclusions:

  • There was no dose-response effect between the dose of sucralose to which mice had been exposed and the incidence of these cancers.
  • The design of the study was poor — mice were exposed from gestation to death without an adequate control group.
  • No mechanism of action could be determined (i.e., the investigators couldn't posit how sucralose could cause the cancers), and only male mice were supposedly affected.
  • There already is a large database of well-designed animal studies with sucralose, and no connection between the sweetener and cancer had been detected.

The panel therefore concluded "[T]he available data did not support the conclusions of the authors (Soffritti et al., 2016) that sucralose induced haematopoietic neoplasias in male Swiss mice."

This, of course, is unacceptable to fear-mongers like CSPI, who never met a sweetener they weren't afraid of — they  criticized the EFSA for being "industry-friendly", and warned consumers that even more testing is necessary. Hint: there will never be enough testing to satisfy CSPI — if they couldn't assure their followers that they're protecting them from something, why would anyone give them donations? In the meantime, they're also warning consumers to avoid extra sugar — guess we're supposed to just ignore that sweet tooth, hmm?

So the bottom line is that, once again, we will have to wait for any substantive data that really shows a danger to health from using sucralose, or any other intense sweetener. Don't hold your breath!