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.