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Rough month for SPLENDA makers...Citizens for Health ask FDA to revoke

Splenda, other sweeteners gain popularity, controversy

Scripps Howard News Service

The last month has been a rough one for the makers of Splenda.

On April 3, the consumer advocacy group Citizens for Health asked the Food and Drug Administration to revoke its approval of the popular sweetener, citing consumer complaints of adverse side-effects, such as stomach pains and rashes.

Days earlier, a federal court had dismissed a lawsuit by Splenda-marketer, McNeil Nutritionals. The suit had accused the trade group, the Sugar Association, with false advertising related to its Splenda-bashing Web site,

Meanwhile, the presses were rolling with news of a new National Cancer Institute study concluding that aspartame (the sweetener in Equal and other products) does not increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer, as earlier reports had suggested.

The criticisms were enough to make Splenda spokesperson Michael Beckerich downright sour:

"The inaccuracies being put out there are a great disservice to the millions of people who safely use Splenda every day," Beckerich said. "We will vigorously defend the brand through all the appropriate channels."

But the news was also enough to give a calorie-counting sweet-tooth pause before grabbing for that next little pink, or blue, or yellow package. Are sugar substitutes safe after all? Are some safer than others?

Depending on who you ask, the answers are widely different.

Lisa High, a registered dietitian in Boulder, Colo., says she's not convinced by company and FDA claims that the products are safe, so she tells clients to steer clear of them, in favor of natural sweeteners like stevia, an herb, and xylitol, a plant extract.

"They are chemicals. I don't know what they are doing on a cellular level and we don't have tests to show us," High says. "Just because you can't see the effects right away doesn't mean it is safe."

Malena Perdomo, a certified diabetes educator and Latino spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, sees it differently.

Because the body doesn't respond to artificial sweeteners as carbohydrates, they are particularly helpful to diabetics who must carefully watch their blood sugar levels, she says. She believes they are safe, in reasonable doses. As long as people don't overdo it, consuming dozens of packets a day, she recommends them.

"It's a good choice to have," she says.

Attorney James S. Turner, chairman of the board for Citizens for Health and a long-time critic of artificial sweeteners, said the group filed its petition with the FDA after hearing numerous reports by phone and on web sites of "mild to severe gastrointestinal problems in conjunction with consuming Splenda."

Turner also takes issue with Splenda's marketing campaign, which states that it is "made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar."

Read more of this article.

Posted on June 24, 2006 in Splenda in the news | Link To This Entry | Comments (2)


Posted by: God on July 31, 2006 8:46 PM

"made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." Isn't that considered deceptive/misleading advertising? Good on you all for opposing this giant. Hoepfully you can get a good classaction rollin.


Posted by: fred emerson on August 6, 2006 11:26 AM

Keep me on the (undoubtedly) upcoming class action suit. Gee.....maybe "The Offices of James Sokolove..........."

If these greedheads are intentionally stiffing us, they should PAY. Hell, if I go blind or otherwise diabetically disabled as a direct result of corporate hype, I'm going to make 'em pay!


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