Do you know the history of artificial sweeteners and their use being approved by the FDA? If not, enjoy taking in some fabulous facts that can change your life.
The first artificial sweetener to the market was Saccharine in 1957. It came to the market as Sweet’N Low. After 50 years of studies, the FDA approved it for oral use with a warning on the label that it may cause cancer. A chemist, Constantin Fahlberg, discovered Saccharine in 1879 at Johns Hopkins University by noticing its sweet taste by accident.
Aspartame in Equal and NutriSweet came to the market in 1981 and was discovered by a chemist, Jim Schlatter, in 1965, while working in the lab on a new drug, and he similarly tasted the sweetness of the chemical. The name aspartame comes from “aspartyl-phenylalanine methyl ester." The reason it took the FDA so long to approve aspartame for oral use was due to the many studies pointing to its risk, particularly the ones related to migraines and autoimmune diseases.
There is a known component of aspartame that converts to formaldehyde at body temperature (anything 90 degrees or higher). It wasn’t until Arthur Hull, a new commissioner to the FDA, overruled the scientific review panel’s concern about safety and approved it for oral use after eight years of denying its approval due to health risks. It wasn’t too much later when Arthur Hull went to work for the owner of aspartame, G.D. Searle, for $1,000 a day. Although the FDA urged Congress to prosecute against Searle, it ended up with both lawyers hired by the FDA convincing the FDA not to prosecute. Both lawyers ended up joining Mr. Searle’s law firm. This is but one of the many “Money, politics and the FDA” untold stories.
Then came along the wonderful pesticide, sucralose, which was discovered in 1976 by Shashikant Phadnis. He was a student working for the British sugar company and confused the word “testing” for “tasting.” While at King’s College, he tasted a rather sweet compound and hence comes along another new artificial sweetener. Sucralose as Splenda was first approved for oral use by the FDA in 1998.