A review paper published recently in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews raises potentially interesting concerns about the sweetener sucralose, often known by the brand name Splenda. Sucralose is used in a wide range of consumer foods and beverages including diet soft drinks. It was first approved for use in food products in Canada in 1991.
The article, which cites 476 scientific papers, indicates the following potential risks as being among those which warrant further study:
- early studies asserted that sucralose passes through the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) unchanged but subsequent analysis suggested that some of the ingested sweetener is metabolized in the GIT. The identity and safety profile of sucralose metabolites are not known at this time.
- sucralose and one of its hydrolysis products have been found to be mutagenic at elevated concentrations in several testing methods.
- cooking with sucralose at high temperatures has been reported to generate chloropropanols, a potentially toxic class of compounds.
- at doses approved by the FDA and EU, sucralose has been shown in studies on male rats to reduce the bioavailability, and hence presumably the effectiveness, of therapeutic drugs.
- sucralose has the potential to bioaccumulate in a variety of animal species and tissue types.
Other research, for example see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-009-2881-y#page-1 , suggests that sucralose, much of which is excreted by humans, and/or its metabolites are not significantly removed by sewage treatment plants and, due to their slow biodegradation, concentrations may be increasing in surface waters around the world.
The authors of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health article propose that further scientific research is warranted due to these potentially significant findings. The article can be found at www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10937404.2013.842523