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Splenda Maker Sues Scientist Over Research and Comments That Link it to Cancer

Aug. 15, 2023
TC Heartland LLC sued Susan Schiffman over comments indicating an impurity or derivative of sucralose and Splenda could be toxic.

The manufacturer of Splenda filed a defamation lawsuit against the lead researcher of a recent study that indicated an ingredient in sucralose is toxic and could cause cancer.

TC Heartland LLC, the producer of Splenda, sued Susan Schiffman over her comments in a May 31 press release by North Carolina State University and in a May 31 appearance by the professor on a Raleigh, N.C., TV station. Subsequently, the study was widely carried in the general media, including Food Processing.

She said researchers from NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found sucralose-6-acetate to be "genotoxic," meaning it breaks up DNA and ultimately could lead to cancer. That may not be in dispute, but TC Heartland says insinuations that the chemical is present in Splenda or that it’s formed when Splenda is digested are false and defamatory.

There are other manufacturers of sucralose, but Splenda far and away is the leading brand.

The research team’s May 29 research paper, "Toxicological and pharmacokinetic properties of sucralose-6-acetate and its parent sucralose: in vitro screening assays,” describes sucralose-6-acetate as an intermediate and impurity in the manufacture of sucralose and that it broke up DNA in exposed cells.

A briefing by food law firm Keller & Heckman in the National Law Review said the paper claims that recent commercial sucralose samples were found to contain up to 0.67% sucralose-6-acetate. The paper also discusses studies in a rodent model that the authors interpret as suggesting that sucralose-6-acetate may also be produced by acetylation of sucralose in the intestines.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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