Sweeteners

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Sweeteners Saccharin is an organic petroleum-based compound that is three to five hundred times sweeter than sucrose. It is non-nutritive because the human body is unable to metabolize the foreign chemical. Saccharin does not contribute calories; for this reason it is commonly used in diet foods. "The obese [feel] that saccharin is their lifeline to slimdom, and diabetics [claim] it is essential to control their blood sugar" (Brody 482). The same people who consume saccharin certainly would not knowingly eat something that is classified as toxic waste; however, they do it on a daily basis. Saccharin's alias is EPA Hazardous Waste number U202. In fact, workers who handle saccharin are cautioned, "EXERCISE DUE CARE. AVOID CONTACT WITH EYES, SKIN, CLOTHING. WASH THOROUGHLY AFTER HANDLING. IF SWALLOWED, IF CONCIOUS, IMMEDIATELY INDUCE VOMITING" (MSDS). Saccharin has always been surrounded by controversy. As early as 1907, the public was concerned over its safety and proposed banning it. Theodore Roosevelt, a diabetic, fought the idea. He said, "My doctor gives it to me every day...Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot"(Corcoran 12). Saccharin survived the onslaught for another forty years. It wasn't until the bittersweet chemical hit the mainstream consumer market in such things as diet sodas, pharmaceuticals, and chewing gum that it came under fire again. Scientists suggested that saccharin might be a carcinogen in 1951. In 1958, however, saccharin was added to the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list, another paradox. In 1972, the results of a long-term study showed that rats fed saccharin had developed bladder tumors. Subsequently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed saccharin from GRAS status and issued a regulation limiting the use of saccharin in foods. Then in 1974, a National Academy of Science review found that, "Saccharin itself could not be identified as the cause of the tumors because of possible impurities as well as problems with experimental design and procedures" (Kennedy 131). Therefore, the FDA decided not to ban saccharin until they received the results of a study being conducted in Canada. In March 1977, the Canadian study showed that feeding large doses of saccharin to pregnant rats and their weanlings produced bladder cancers in the male offspring. The Canadians immediately banned saccharin. When the FDA announced its intentions to follow suit, public outcry led to a Congressionally voted eighteen-month moratorium. The American people wanted more time to evaluate the results of the study. Shortly thereafter, Congress enacted the Saccharin Study and Labeling Act, which stayed the FDA's hand temporarily and ordered a warning label on all saccharin products: "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health.

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