From the Archives (October 30, 1970): Dangerous sweetness

October 30, 2020 12:15 am | Updated 12:16 am IST

In long and verse sweetness has through the ages been equated with goodness but some hard-hearted research scientists have now found that one of the sweetest substances in existence, the cyclamate, spells danger for the consumer. Cyclamates are hydrocarbon compounds 30 times sweeter than sugar and since they are also non-fattening are being widely used as artificial sweeteners in the preparation of low-calorie beverages, confectionery, canned fruits and fruit juices. In to-day’s world of increasing calorie-consciousness, the manufacture of dietary foods has become a billion-dollar (Rs. 750 crores) a year industry. Saccharine is said to be 400 times sweeter than sugar but since it leaves a bitter aftertaste, makers of dietary foods and beverages have gone in for cyclamates. The United States is the biggest user of cyclamates. On the market for two decades, cyclamates first came under suspicion in 1966 when two Japanese scientists discovered that a metabolic product of cyclamate called cyclohexylamine could cause severe skin irritation in some people. Close investigation was thereupon begun in many countries and the World Health Organisation fixed the safe daily intake limit for human beings at 3 ½ grams for adults and 1 ½ grams for children. A group of American scientists has now established a connection between cyclamates and cancer.

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