ISA statement in response to study by Bornemann et al.
Responding to the allegations made by Bornemann et al. in a study published recently1, which looked at the metabolism of repeated dosing sucralose in rat intestine and its potential accumulation in rat adipose tissue, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) would like to point out the lack of evidence to support any safety concern for sucralose. On the contrary, the scientific opinions from the food safety authorities around the world, in line with the wealth of research available, consistently confirm that sucralose is safe.
All low calorie sweeteners, including sucralose, have to go through a thorough safety assessment by the competent regulatory authorities around the world before being approved on the market. In addition to the evaluation and confirmation of the safety of sucralose by the leading FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), in a scientific opinion published in 2017 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reconfirmed sucralose is safe at current use levels2. Sucralose has been evaluated and permitted for use by many regulatory bodies including US FDA, Health Canada, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare and Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand. The global scientific and regulatory consensus is that sucralose is safe.
In contrast, the current rat experiment by Bornemann et al., which studied the metabolism of sucralose in a small sample of 10 rats, does not lead to a change in the safety profile of sucralose, since lifetime studies in the same species showed no effects at extremely high doses. This study by Bornemann et al. provides no evidence that sucralose poses any safety concern.
Indeed, the study findings are also in contrast to a large body of detailed metabolism studies conducted in various animal species and in humans that has demonstrated very little absorption of sucralose from the gastrointestinal tract. There is no evidence of metabolism by the gut microbiome, based on this recent study or previous research. No metabolites of sucralose have been found in feces and most ingested sucralose is excreted unchanged in the feces.3,4 Furthermore, studies using radiolabelled sucralose in both humans and animals have shown that absorbed sucralose undergoes minimal metabolism and all radiolabel is relatively rapidly excreted from the body, supporting a lack of bioaccumulative potential.
Used in foods, beverages and tabletop sweeteners, low calorie sweeteners such as sucralose can provide people with a wide choice of sweet-tasting options with low or no calories, thus can be a useful tool, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet, in helping reduce overall sugar and calorie intake, as well as manage blood glucose levels. Low calorie sweeteners are also non-cariogenic, which means that they do not contribute to tooth decay.