How safe is sucralose?

Sucralose is a calorie-free artificial sweetener derived from sucrose and is up to 650 times sweeter than sugar.

Valued for having no bitter aftertaste, sucralose-based products are found in a broad range of lower-calorie foods, including table top sweeteners, fizzy drinks, chewing gum, baking mixes, breakfast cereals and salad dressings.

Because it is very sweet, sucralose is often mixed with other sweetening ingredients that are not calorie-free, such as dextrose or maltodextrin, to dilute its intense sweetness.

When consumed, most of the sucralose is not absorbed by the body and is eliminated through excretion. Between 8% and 20% enters the blood and is removed through urine, essentially unchanged. The EU's Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) has concluded that repeated consumption of sucralose is "unlikely" to lead to accumulation in the body (PDF, 128kb).

There have been reports of adverse reactions to sucralose, including claims that it could be a migraine trigger. There is also research suggesting that it could harm the immune system.

However, in a review of the evidence in 2000 (PDF, 128kb), the SCF concluded that sucralose is safe for human consumption. In particular, that it is not harmful to the immune system, does not cause cancer, infertility, pose a risk to pregnancy, or affect blood sugar levels.

Sucralose has no effect on tooth decay and is commonly found in oral health products, such as chewing gum. It also has less of an impact on blood glucose than sugar. Both of these health claims were validated in a 2011 review by the European Food Safety Authority (PDF, 331kb).

Acceptable daily intake: 15mg/kg body weight.

Find out what the latest scientific evidence says about these other common artificial sweeteners:

Read: The truth about sweeteners

Page last reviewed: 13/04/2016

Next review due: 13/04/2018

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