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After its discovery, saccharin soon found its way into many food applications. It was particularly popular among persons with diabetes as well as obese persons. Saccharin use was limited, however, by a taste quality substantially inferior to that of sucrose. Its sweet taste is accompanied by significant bitter and metallic taste attributes. Interestingly, it has been found that the population is heterogeneous in this respect, approximately one-third is hypersensitive to these off tastes, and the remaining two-thirds is moderately sensitive to insensitive (23-26). Saccharin's FPA data and C/R function are illustrated in Figures 1 and 2, respectively, and are also given in Table 1. As has been generally discussed earlier, sweetness potency is strongly dependent on the concentration of sucrose used as reference. For saccharin, the falloff in sweetness potency as a function of increasing sucrose reference concentration is particularly dramatic. Thus, from the equation in Figure 2, saccharin Pw values of 710, 180, and 9 are calculated relative to sucrose references of 2,8, and 10%, respectively. The abrupt drop in sweetness potency shown here for sac charin is due to its low Rm of 10.1. Persons hypersensitive to saccharin bitterness do not experience an Rm that even approaches 10, whereas individuals insensitive to this offtaste experience a much higher Rm. However, the average result for the expert sensory panel used for the development of the data in this study is 10.1. Although the reason for a low Rm for some panelists is not known, it seems likely that it may be due to mixture suppression effects. This phenomenon of suppression of one taste attribute (eg, sweetness) by another (eg, bitter or sour) is well known (19). The temporal profile of saccharin is essentially identical to that of sucrose. ATs of 4 and ETs of 14 s, respectively, have been determined for both saccharin and sucrose (7). Thus, with the exception of a marginal flavor profile, which is particularly objectionable for some subjects, the taste quality of saccharin mimics that of sucrose sufficiently to be useful in food applications.

Questions concerning the safety of saccharin date back to the early 1900s. A staunch defender of saccharin safety was President Theodore Roosevelt. In response to those who questioned its safety, Roosevelt stated, "Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot" (27). Despite such high-level support, however, saccharin has continued to come under fire. The chronologies of safety studies and regulatory agency actions concerning saccharin have been comprehensively reviewed (28,29). The principal events in this chronology have had many ups and downs. In 1958, saccharin was listed as one of the 675 substances on the original GRAS list. In 1972, however, the FDA retracted the GRAS status of saccharin based on concern over results in a long-term rat feeding study conducted by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Then, in 1977, as a result of a Canadian multigeneration rat study in which bladder tumors were found in the second-generation animals, the FDA announced its intention to ban saccharin. The FDA held that it had no choice other than to ban saccharin because of the Delaney Clause of the Food Additive Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This law requires that if any food additive, at any dose, in any animal species, is found to cause cancer, its further use is to be outlawed. Acting FDA Commissioner Gardner stated,

We have no evidence that saccharin has ever caused cancer in human beings. But we do now have clear evidence that the

Table 1. FPA and C/R Function Data on Major High-Potency Nonnutritive Sweeteners

C/R function data FPA data

Table 1. FPA and C/R Function Data on Major High-Potency Nonnutritive Sweeteners

C/R function data FPA data

Sweetener

Rm

k„

Sweet

Bitter

Salty

Metallic

Cooling

Licorice

Saccharin"

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