Saccharin cleared for use in foods in Canada

Saccharin, long rejected for food use in Canada, is now allowed for use in beverages and liqueurs, among certain other products. (

An artificial sweetener famously banned in foods in Canada for decades has been quietly re-approved for use in some products.

Saccharin, a non-nutritive ingredient created in the U.S. in the late 19th century and best known for its use in Sweet’N Low table-top sweetener, had been de-listed for use as a food additive in Canada since the 1970s.

Health Canada published a notice of proposal in October last year to re-approve saccharin for use in Canada and found “no safety concerns were raised” during the comment period.

The department announced May 2 it had amended its “List of Permitted Sweeteners” to enable the product’s use effective April 24.

The listing approves saccharin and its salts — calcium saccharin, potassium saccharin and sodium saccharin — for use in small amounts in beverages, liqueurs, frozen desserts, toppings, topping mixes, fruit spreads, canned fruit, chewing gum and “breath freshener products.”

The product’s de-listing in Canada — which allowed “restricted use” of saccharin in its table-top form only — came in the wake of studies in the 1970s which aired concerns that saccharin could be carcinogenic in laboratory rats.

However, Health Canada noted last year in its proposal to re-approve the product, “more recent studies have revealed that the carcinogenic effect of saccharin in rats is not relevant to humans.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in recent years has determined saccharin can no longer be considered a “possible carcinogen in humans,” Health Canada noted. The U.S. National Toxicology Program in 2000 also removed saccharin from its list of suspected cancer-causing chemicals.

Citing “food industry requests” to use saccharin in foods sold in Canada, Health Canada said it has run an “exhaustive evaluation” of sodium saccharin toxicological data and concluded that results of the previous studies on rats “are not applicable to humans.”

Those results, the government department said, are “in accord with the conclusions of other regulatory agencies worldwide.” Health Canada has informed stakeholders of its plans to re-list saccharin as far back as 2006.

The Calorie Control Council, a U.S.-based industry group representing makers of alternative sweeteners, said in a release Monday its members are “excited about the approval of saccharin and its salts for several uses in Canada.”

The council has long criticized the rat experiments, saying the study animals “were fed the human equivalent of hundreds of cans of diet soft drinks per day for a lifetime.”

Citing University of Nebraska studies, the council said feeding of high doses of a sodium salt, such as sodium saccharin, to male rats has been found to alter the animals’ urine and can lead to a precipitate forming which, in turn, may lead to formation of bladder tumours.

Such sodium salts, the council said, “produce tumours only when administered at high doses and only in rats,” thus “the mechanism by which the rats develop cancer is not present in humans.” –– Network



  • Actually, this is one of two articles that we could find about this news in Canada along with the one published by The Globe and Mail, and that, one month after the fact.

    If approving saccharin is so good and beneficial for Canadians, we wonder why there is no news about it.

    Everything done in the secrecy and discretion of a few involved directly with this is not the best way to introduce this sweetener in Canada after 35+ years ban.

  • maazkalim

    While I’m from India, and I have no qualms to accept/admit that our country is not advanced as yours but c’mon…! Why you want just any reason to criticise?! As I can see, this has become phenomena in all democracies to criticise firstly, the governments and then, the media [obviously due to them being corporate-entities]! I’m telling you just a plain fact, to all those persons consuming Saccharin as a[n] [key] ingredient in various commercial products, ranging from WHO-ORS to leading Toothpaste brands (I can even name them, since neither I’m bound by any corporate nor I’m fond of being commercial [just like the TV media]) but Al-Ham-Dulillah (With God’s Grace) no one has encountered any ill-health symptoms connected with Saccharin! Period.

COPA Medallion COPA finalist in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
©2018 AGCanada is a production of Glacier FarmMedia Limited Partnership. Any affiliated or third party content is the property of its respective owner and is used with permission.
Please refer to Copyright Page for details.
Click here to view our Website Terms of Use.