Saccharin, An Accidental Sweetener That Misunderstood

Have you ever wondered why most of Us crave something sweet so much? Especially when we were kids, sweets is almost a must food. Whether you get it organically from fruits and veggies or simply from sweet delights like cupcakes, lollipops, or coke most humans are a sweet tooth. Little did we know, it can trace back to our ancestors all the way back to the hunters and gathering age when our ancestors ate food that are high in sweets and calories. There is a gene theory that seeks to explain our current eating habits, which are still rich in sweets and calories, by relating them to our ancestors. No matter how it starts we became such a sweet tooth being, we have to admit sweets are an important part of our diet, which is why both sugar and artificial sweeteners play an important role in our lives.

And the oldest and first artificial sweetener is saccharin. The chemical was discovered in 1878 in a small lab at Johns Hopkins University. Technically be referred to as anhydroorthosulphaminebenzoic acid but its finder has a different idea, Fahlberg named it based on the Latin word saccharon meaning sugar which itself ultimately derived from the Sanskrit “sarkara,” meaning “gravel, grit.” So Saccharin means “of or resembling sugar.” Discovered by a Russian chemist named Constantine Fahlberg. During his lab work at Johns Hopkins University. Ira Remsen was the one who started the chemistry department at the university, Fahlberg entered the scene in 1877 when a sugar importer hired him to analyze the purity of imported goods. The same company linked Fahlberg to Remsen and asked him to use a second laboratory for testing. Fahlberg and Remsen got along well, and until 1878, Fahlberg worked with Remsen on the Institute’s research work.

Over late dinner, Fahlberg accidentally came across with substance from coal tar called “sugar without sugar” He had found the source and worked in the laboratory for weeks and months to determine its chemical composition, properties, and reactions. Even if Fahlberg had previously accidentally synthesized saccharin in some other way, he probably never had a reason to taste it, unless he accidentally tasted it. In 1879, Fahlberg and Remsen published a joint paper describing both methods of saccharin synthesis.

Taken from Medical News Today on Saccharin: What To know “humans cannot metabolize saccharin, meaning it does not add to a person’s energy and contains no calories or carbohydrates. For these reasons, people with diabetes or who want to lose weight may choose saccharin as an alternative to sugar. Because it is 300–500 times sweeter than regular sugar, they need only a tiny amount to sweeten foods.

Despite the controversy that saccharin is not good for health and is not feasible for consumption, it turns out all of that is just a myth. Currently, the FDA, World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) agree that saccharin poses no risk and is safe for human consumption. According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake of saccharin is 15 mg per kg of body weight.




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