World of Chem: Food March 13 Sweeteners
Sugar has a bad rep: its supposed to rot our teeth, and main culprit for obesity. Thus artificial
sweeteners (non-nutritive sweeteners) introduced to the market, though not all calorie free.
(Sweet N Low)
U.S. has the highest consumption of sweeteners the U.S. consumes half of all non-nutritive
sweeteners in the world.
France is the most profitable country for McDonalds (other than the U.S.) Largest number of
restaurants (after the U.S.) and the largest private employer in France.
Saccharin: Remsen and Fahlberg 1879
o Fahlberg (Remsens student) noticed saccharin tasted sweet when he accidentally got
some on his hand so he patented saccharin (went behind Remsen). Professor Remsen
never forgave Fahlberg.
o Remsen published a paper about saccharin but only after it was patented by Fahlberg.
Saccharin got started as a substitute for sugar in Germany
John Francis Queeny brought in saccharin and put it in the U.S. market. His wifes name was
Olga Monsanto: thus Monsanto company.
Sweeteners: 500-600x as sweet as sugar. But bitter aftertaste; thus 300x as sweet; some other
substances added to cut down on bitter aftertaste.
Saccharin: 300x sweetness; 0 calories (compared to sugar)
o Dilute solution until you do not notice sweetness anymore to figure out the sweetness;
thus diluted 300 times
o Good for diabetics
But increased incidence of bladder cancer among male rats fed high lifetime amounts of saccharin
and whose parents had also been fed high lifetime amounts of saccharin Canadian study 1977.
o Thus, Saccharin banned as a food additive in Canada
o But available as a table-top sweetener in pharmacies only.
Each tablet Hermesetas is equivalent in sweetness to one teaspoonful of sugar.
Each tablet contains 11.85 mg sodium saccharin.
In the U.S.: The Delaney Clause (part of the FDA act): any substance shown to cause cancer
under any circumstances cannot be put on the market.
o Equivalent for a human to drink 800 cans of soft drinks a day to get the same effect as the
o Overturned by the American congress special law to override the clause.
o In the U.S. on labels, a warning: Canada has shown that saccharin is dangerous to your
o Thus in the U.S. saccharin is allowed as a food additive and available as a table-top
sweetener but with a warning label
Saccharin removed from carcinogens list in 2000
Saccharin causes cancer in male rats by a mechanism not found in humans World of Chem: Food March 13 Sweeteners
Difference between Risk, Hazard, and Exposure
Lion is a hazard but the risk depends on the conditions under which you meet the hazard (in a zoo
or in the safari)
Risk = hazard x exposure
Risk depends on the type of species involved (mouse vs. antelope against the lion; lion wont
o Thus risk = hazard x exposure x susceptibility
Thus, after President Clinton lifted the ban on saccharin, it is allowed in the U.S. as a food
additive and tabletop sweetener without a warning label.
Things have not changed in Canada
Sorbitol/Xylitol: sugar alcohol sugar with OH groups.
o In chewing gum
o 0.6 x sweetness (compared to sugar) and 1.3 calories.
o Used in diabetic products gives bulk and not easily metabolised (thus little calories).
o Exploding diarrhea associated with sorbitol
Saccharin-free table top sweetener introduced discovered by accident by Michael Sveda 1937
who was a graduate student.
o He smoked in his lab, and noticed it tasted sweet. Thus cyclamate.
o Sweetness 30x; 0 calories.
o Does not give rise to the bitterness that saccharin gives
o Bladder tumors in rats fed a 10:1 mixture of cyclamate-saccharin 1969 study.
Banned as a food additive
Available as a table-top sweetener
Banned as a food additive and as a table-top sweetener
o Sweet N Low contains cyclamate added to saccharin to cut down on bitter aftertaste
Robert Schlatter: accidental discovery paper contaminated with something sweet: Aspartame
aspartic acid and phenylalanine (made from 2 amino acids linked together). Also a methyl ester
attached on the aspartic acid.
o When aspartame is metabolized by the body: methyl ester is converted to methanol. *
o 180x sweetness; 4 calories (same as protein) but so little is needed so really not many
o Sold as Equal.
o PKU: genetic disorder in children. They cannot take aspartame; phenylalanine not
properly metabolised and goes to the brain.
o Not heat stable sweetness disappears after a while in coffee because sweetness only
present when the two amino acids are linked together. When they are broken apart, the
sweetness is gone.
o Methanol is extremely toxic: can blind you or kill you. Thus why aspartame acquired
such a bad name: it has wood alcohols in it.
Methanol 80,000 120,000 mg: death, which is a small glass full.
But 7 mg per soft drink with aspartame!World of Chem: Food March 13 Sweeteners
40 mg per fruit juice drink (methanol is naturally present)
85 mg methanol in tomato juice!
o Some people are sensitive to aspartame they will get adverse reactions. Not allergy
because it has nothing to do with the immune system but people get headaches, dizziness,
fatigue and mood changes (but all anecdotal evidence!!)
o Epidemiological studies: Parkinsons, MS, Cancer?
People suffering from diabetes most likely to take aspartame-sweetened drinks.
But they dont have any higher incidences of these diseases.
o Aspartame and brain tumours?
Increased incidents in both between 1980 and 1987.
Past 1987, brain tumour incidences level off while aspartame consumption is
New techniques developed to detect brain tumours between 1980 and 1987!
o ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake): 50 mg/kg
o NOAEL (No Observed Adverse Effect Level): 4000 mg/kg
o Average Daily Intake: 5 mg/kg
o A 70 kg man would have to drink 20 cans a day to reach the ADI, and 1600 cans a day to
reach the NOAEL.
o Study 2005: 1800 rats fed various amounts of aspartame over their lifetime. Female rats
show a statistically significant increase in lymphomas and leukemia when fed doses close
to human consumption.