Saccharin is approved for use in food as a non-nutritive sweetener. Saccharin brand names include Sweet and Low®, Sweet Twin®, Sweet’N Low®, and Necta Sweet®. It is 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), and it does not contain any calories.
First discovered and used in 1879, saccharin is currently approved for use, as a sugar substitute for cooking or table use, and in processed foods. Saccharin is also approved for use for certain technological purposes.
In the early 1970s, saccharin was linked with the development of bladder cancer in laboratory rats, which led Congress to mandate additional studies of saccharin and the presence of a warning label on saccharin-containing products until such warning could be shown to be unnecessary.
Since then, more than 30 human studies demonstrated that the results found in rats were not relevant to humans and that saccharin is safe for human consumption.
In 2000, the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health concluded that saccharin should be removed from the list of potential carcinogens.
Products containing saccharin no longer have to carry the warning label.