ACSH: CSPI Not Sweet on Sweeteners

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Jeff Stier, May 25, 2004.

  1. Jeff Stier

    Jeff Stier Guest

    CSPI Not Sweet on Sweeteners

    Did you know that the Center For Science in the Public
    Interest STILL considers saccharin "UNSAFE" ?

    Please see:

    Why do people still rely on them for credible health
    information? Jeff

    May 24, 2004

    CSPI Not Sweet on Sweeteners

    By  Jeff Stier, Esq.

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest's flagship
    publication, Nutrition Action Health Letter is a prime
    fundraising tool for the Food Police.  On its face, it looks
    like a well-written and visually appealing newsletter with
    health tips and recipes.  But to the trained eye, it's not
    so pretty, at least from a scientific perspective.

    Let's break down just a few things from their May 2004
    feature "Sweet Nothings: Not All Sweeteners Are Equal." 
    (Cute title.  If only they did such a "Splenda-d" job with
    their science.)

    In their review of artificial sweeteners, they describe
    sugar alcohols and aspartame as generally safe, which is
    good.  And while they call Acesulfame "inadequately tested,"
    it is no surprise, since we know CSPI subscribes to the
    precautionary principle .

    But it was striking that they listed saccharin as "unsafe"!

    After all, in 2000, the National Institutes of Health
    removed saccharin from its "Report on Carcinogens."  (See: .)

    By now, we all should know that while long-term, high-dose
    experiments on rats found that saccharin may cause bladder
    cancer in second-generation male rats, the same does not
    apply to humans.  Surely, if saccharin made people sick,
    we'd know it from tracking diabetics, a class of people who
    use more saccharin than the general population.  Yet
    diabetics have shown _no_ increased rate of bladder cancer
    or any other types of cancer.  Sachharin is safe.

    So how does CSPI get to "unsafe"?  Mainly through
    inflammatory rhetoric.  For instance, they write:

    In 1997, the FDA tried to ban saccharin because animal
    studies showed that it caused cancer of the bladder, uterus,
    ovaries, skin, and other organs.  Bowing to pressure from
    the diet-food industry and dieters, Congress intervened to
    keep saccharin on the market, though with a warning label. 
    (At the time, saccharin was the only high-potency

    Well,  cyclamates  could have been an alternative, but the
    activists had already pressured the FDA into banning them.

    So, according to CSPI, Congress bowed to pressure from
    industry (and dieters!)  Never, according to CSPI, has a
    decision counter to CSPI doctrine been made on its merits. 
    Either you agree with CSPI or you are bowing to pressure, or
    worse yet, you are "a paid liar for industry."

    They continue:

    In the late 1990s the Calorie Control Council -- which
    represents the low-calorie food and beverage industry --
    convinced the FDA and the National Institutes of Health that
    the main health concern about saccharin was bladder cancer
    in male rats, but that people didn't develop bladder cancer
    through the same mechanism as the rats.

    Again, it was the industry, according to CSPI, which
    persuaded the apparently malleable scientists at both the
    Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of
    Health that humans don't get bladder cancer the same way
    rats do.  Those FDA and NIH scientists will fall for
    anything, suggests CSPI.

    The untrained reader of CSPI's newsletter is left to think
    that saccharin is dangerous. Yet nothing could be further
    from the truth.  But until we all start challenging CSPI,
    they'll continue to get away with it.

    Isn't it time we held them accountable?

    For more "Isn't it time we held them accountable?" articles,
    please see:

    For more on Saccharin, please see ACSH's classic, Facts
    Versus Fears

    And if you want to know a bit more about "carcinogens,"
    please see our Holiday Dinner Menu: