Earlier this month, the EPA removed Saccharin (best known by consumers as Sweet ‘N Low) from its list of Hazardous Waste products. This is a result of a petition by the Calorie Control Council. Saccharin has had a long and controversial history.
Saccharin was first listed as a hazardous waste in 1980 after studies in rats showed the sweetener caused higher rates of bladder cancer. The EPA subsequently determined it to be a "potential human carcinogen". Yet two decades later, the National Toxicology Program and International Agency for Research on Cancer reversed that classification after scientists failed to link saccharin consumption to cancer in humans. Saccharin was removed from their listings of hazardous substances.
Saccharin has been around since the 1870′s. However, controversy has surrounded the product for a long time. From Wikipedia:
Starting in 1907, the USDA began investigating saccharin as a direct result of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Harvey Wiley, then the director of the bureau of chemistry for the USDA, viewed it as an illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient (sugar) by a less valuable ingredient. In a clash that had career consequences, Wiley told then President Theodore Roosevelt that "Everyone who ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health." But Roosevelt himself was a consumer of saccharin, and in a heated exchange, Roosevelt angrily answered Wiley by stating, "Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot." The episode proved the undoing of Wiley’s career.
In 1911, the Food Inspection Decision 135 stated that foods containing saccharin were adulterated. However in 1912, Food Inspection Decision 142 stated that saccharin was not harmful.
However, it wasn’t until the 1960′s and 70′s when saccharin became a household word – providing the first calorie free soft drinks. However, in the early 70′s saccharin was forced to carry a warning label that it could cause cancer.
Warning labels for saccharin were removed in 2000 and with the latest ruling saccharin has received a clean bill of health from government regulators.