Sucralose is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely approved globally for use in foods and beverages. It is derived from sucrose by the selective replacement of three hydroxyl groups by chlorine atoms. Sucralose has a sweetness potency of about 600 times that of sucrose, thus the addition of very small amounts of sucralose can be used to sweeten foods and beverages. Unlike sucrose, sucralose is not digested or metabolized for energy, therefore, no calories are obtained from sucralose, and sucralose does not affect blood glucose levels. These properties result in the use of sucralose to produce foods and beverages that are suitable for persons with diabetes or those aiming to reduce calorie or carbohydrate intake. Although several reviews have been published previously (Grice & Goldsmith 2000: Grotz & Munro 2009; JECFA 1989a, 1991a; SCF 1989, 2000a), the purposes of this review are (1) to provide an updated summary of the research investigating the safety of sucralose in one publication including studies that have been the genesis of new questions on sucralose safety, and (2) to provide background on the regulatory process of testing and approval of food additives for health professionals. Numerous clinical investigations into the effect of sucralose on glycemic responses are a particular focus, following the discovery of gut sweet taste receptors and academic studies investigating the potential role that activation of these has on overall glycemic control. Also reviewed are several recent studies that report on estimated daily sucralose intakes in different population subgroups, including children. Collectively, the data continue to demonstrate that sucralose is safe for its intended use as a non-caloric sugar alternative.
Having reviewed the extensive database of studies on sucralose safety, this thorough review of the literature by Magnuson et al., concludes that the collective evidence supports a clear demonstration of safety of use of sucralose as a non-caloric sweetener in foods and beverages and that sucralose is non-carcinogenic, based on carcinogenicity studies that comply with regulatory standards for appropriate design and conduct and no evidence of genotoxicity.
Furthermore, the review paper provides an overview of several recent studies that report on estimated daily sucralose intakes in different population subgroups, including children. The results of well-conducted consumption estimates consistently find that the intakes of sucralose in all members of the population, including children and diabetics, remain well below the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), even when using conservative approaches such as use of maximum use levels.
Finally, the authors reviewed previous and numerous more recent clinical trials, in both healthy and diabetic subjects using a variety of approaches and conditions, including measurement of gastrointestinal incretins, and conclude that collectively evidence supports a lack of effect of sucralose on both glycemic control and gut hormones and/or gut function, and therefore can be safely used by people with diabetes.