THE CYCLAMATE CONTROVERSY
At the center of the cyclamate discussion is Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, a Food and Drug Administration research scientist for many years who, since 1966, has been testing cyclamate on chicken embryos. Of a total of 4,000 embryos injected, 15% have shown deformities: feet attached directly to the hip, toes fused together, ‘flipper’ legs, malformed spines and missing pelvises.
An earlier FDA test had shown chromosome breakage in rats that were injected with cyclohexylamine, a metabolic product of cyclamate. Concluded Dr. Verrett, “I don’t recommend cyclamate for chicks, and I don’t recommend it for people.” After discussing the results of her work on a television program, she drew an immediate rebuttal from the FDA Commissioner Dr. Herbert Ley. “Cyclamates are safe within the present state of knowledge and scientific opinion available to me,” he said.
There have been other warnings about the widely used sweetener.
Last November, the FDA was advised by the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, that use of cyclamates should be restricted. As a result, the agency last April began considering new labeling requirements for artificially sweetened foods and beverages.
The labels would indicate cyclamate content in milligrams and would recommend a maximum daily intake of 3,500 mg for adults and 1,200 for children. But the FDA has not yet given any indication about when, or if, it will establish the requirements. The ban on cyclamates, ordered by the Health Education and Welfare Secretary Robert Finch last week, might hit millions of weight-watchers in the waistline, but it is a real disappointment to the rich diet-food industry.
In the 20 years since cyclamates were discovered, sales of products containing the non-nutritive sweeteners have risen to $1 billion annually. Worst hit will be the processors of foods containing the sweetener. Most of the cyclamate supply now goes into diet drinks, which have gained at least a 15% share of the market for soft drinks. There is some question whether diet drinkers will switch back to sugar-sweetened drinks or just give it all up in favor of water.
Cyclamates are also used in puddings, gelatins, salad dressing, jams and jellies, ice cream and practically all diet foods. The producers of ‘cured’ bacon commonly use cyclamates, which are cheaper than sugar. Cyclamates even go into the making of children’s flavored vitamins, pickles and dog food. Diet drinks containing cyclamates must be removed from shelves by January 1st. The announcement took some producers unawares.
Instead of trying to fight the ban, Coca-Cola officials say that they are experimenting with other formulae for their diet drinks, and will probably switch to some other low-calorie sweetener. PepsiCo, which was obviously not caught napping, immediately announced that it will begin marketing within a few weeks cyclamate-free Diet Pepsi-Cola ‘with a touch of real sugar’.
A. 1. What is cyclamate?
2. What do flipper legs or missing pelvises exemplify?
3. Why did the FDA begin to consider new labeling requirements for artificially sweetened foods and beverages?
4. Who will the ban on cyclamates affect most?
5. In which kind of food is the most cyclamate used?
6. What may diet-drinkers do after the ban on cyclamates is put into practice?
7. When is the ban on cyclamates officially starting?
B. Mark the statements as True (T), False (F) or No Information (Nl).
1. Dr. Herbert Ley doesn’t object to the use of cyclamates.
2. Children can tolerate a lower amount of cyclamates than adults.
3. Cyclamate is not nutritive.
4. Producers invest much more money in diet foods than in conventional ones. 5. Cyclamates cost producers more money than real sugar. 6. There has been a growing interest in diet foods in the last twenty years. 7. Cyclamates are also used in dog food. 8. There are labels on containers indicating the cyclamate content of the product. 9. PepsiCo tried to fight the ban on cyclamates but couldn’t get the authorities to change their minds