Introduction to Saccharin

Almost 150 years ago people discovered saccharin accidentally. Since then it has become an alternative to sugar to sweeten various foods and beverages. A few decades ago some animal research linked saccharin with health issues, leading to a decline in the substance’s popularity. However, later studies suggested that there was no confirmed link found to cancer in humans.

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What is Saccharin?

Companies use saccharin sweetener as a non-nutritive or artificial sweetener. In the year 1879, people first discovered the substance by accident. Its use became widespread during the times of World War I because of the sugar shortage. During the 1960s, marketers started promoting saccharin sweetener as a weight loss product under the trade name Sweet and Low. Through several chemical processes, manufacturers make saccharin using the chemical toluene or anthranilic acid as the base ingredient. The process gives out a white, crystalline powder that is stable under a range of conditions.

Saccharin sweetener has three forms: 

  • Acid saccharin

  • Sodium saccharin

  • Calcium saccharin

Sodium saccharin is most popular in artificial sweeteners though few people find it to be a bitter, and metallic aftertaste. However, humans cannot metabolize saccharin, which means saccharin sweet does not add energy, calories, or carbohydrates to a person. Hence, diabetic patients or those who want to lose weight choose saccharin sweet as an alternative to sugar. A tiny amount to sweeten foods is enough as it is 300–500 times sweeter than regular sugar.

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Use of Saccharin

The primary use of saccharin is as a calorie-free sweetener. Manufacturers usually combine it with other sweeteners, like aspartame, to combat its bitter taste.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes saccharin for use as a sweetening agent in items like beverages, fruit juice drinks, drink bases, or mixes, as a sugar substitute for cooking or table use, also in processed foods.

They also authorize saccharin for industrial purposes, which includes:

  • To enhance the flavour in chewable vitamins as well as mineral tablets.

  • To retain the taste and physical properties of chewing gum.

  • To improve the flavour of ingredients in bakery products.

Food and Drink Sources

It has no associations with cancer. The use of saccharin is not as widespread today. The discovery of new sweeteners with no bitter aftertaste led to saccharin’s decline in popularity. Saccharin still appears in the ingredients of various foods and drinks like bakery products, candy, chewing gum, desserts, jelly, salad dressings. The use of saccharin in beverages is limited to the acceptable amount to less than 12 milligrams (mg) per fluid ounce by the FDA for manufacturers. Saccharin cannot exceed 30 mg per serving size in processed foods.


Sweetener

People can buy saccharin as a liquid or granule table sweetener. They can be bought with the brand names such as Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin, Sweet’N Low, Necta Sweet.

Other uses of saccharin. Many companies use saccharin to produce non-food items such as cosmetics, chewing tobacco, and snuff, pharmaceuticals, and cattle feed.


Other Sweeteners

The FDA considers saccharin to be a high-intensity sweetener because it is many times sweeter than sugar. The FDA approved sweeteners are as follows:

  • Aspartame: Aspartame contains calories and may be considered a nutritive sweetener. Because it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, people need a small amount. It is not heat-stable, hence it is not used in baked goods. It can be used as a table sweetener, in cereals, puddings, dairy products, and also in beverages.

  • Acesulfame Potassium: This non-nutritive sweetener is often used in frozen desserts, drinks, and baked goods. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, and manufacturers usually combine it with other sweeteners.

  • Sucralose: This is a non-nutritive sweetener and is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. It stays heat-stable, and therefore it can be a substitute for sugar in baked goods.

  • Neotame: This is a non-nutritive sweetener and 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It is very heat-stable even at extreme temperatures.

What is Sodium Saccharin?

Sodium saccharin is a solid form of artificial sweetener saccharin. Saccharin is non-nutritive. It is used to add sweetness to beverages and foods without calories or the detrimental effects of consuming sugar. It helps you reduce your consumption of sugar. High sugar consumption can lead to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Write about the Benefits of Saccharin and Its Acceptable Daily Intake.

Ans: Substituting saccharin, or another sugar substitute can help aid in weight loss and long-term weight control. It also reduces the incidence of dental cavities and is an important factor in the management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Saccharin is usually used to sweeten beverages. It is a hundred times sweeter than table sugar with no calories.


The FDA has established an acceptable daily intake, ADI, of saccharin of 5 milligrams per kilogram of body mass. This is approximately equal to nine packets of sweetener. The ADI is established to be 100 times lower than the lowest dose and it has been demonstrated to have adverse effects in lab animals.

Q2. Write about the Safety of Saccharin and Its Alternatives.

Ans: In the year 1970s research studies linked a diet extremely high in saccharin to an increased incidence of bladder cancer in lab rats. However, the studies further suggested that the mechanism is unique to lab rats. The study has not been shown that cancer can occur in humans. Several decades of population studies in the U.S. and other countries have failed to show any adverse effects of saccharin in human health. However, saccharin is not a panacea for weight loss or the treatment of diabetes. It is crucial to use artificial sweeteners as part of a healthy lifestyle under the guidance of a health professional.


Each sugar substitute has a different taste. One’s choice depends mainly on taste preference. Sugar substitutes may also be combined to produce a palatable taste. One can also choose to use sugar alcohols or other sweeteners like honey, agave nectar because they contain fewer calories than sucrose. Other sugar substitutes approved for use in the U.S. are aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose, highly refined extract of the stevia leaf, as well as rebiana.