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What is Cyclamate?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Cyclamates are artificial sweeteners developed in the 1930’s for use in a number of commercially manufactured foods and beverages. Considered to be in the range of thirty times sweeter than sucrose, cyclamate is derived from cyclohexylsulfamic acid. Health concerns led to a ban on the sweetener in some countries in the middle of the 20th century, although there are a number of nations today that continue to approve the product for regular use.

Michael Sveda, a student at the University of Illinois, is usually credited with developing cyclamate. Beginning in 1937, this sugar substitute was enormously popular in all sorts of food and beverage products, often eclipsing other sweetening options. Because cyclamate could be produced quickly and inexpensively, it became especially popular with manufacturers of various types of soft drinks.

However, research into the effects of cyclamate on the body began to indicate that there could be health risks for anyone consuming the sweetener on a daily basis. As a result of several years of research, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States officially banned the use of cyclamate in commercially prepared foods and beverages. Several major soft drink manufacturers began to announce plans to phase out use of the sweetener before the start date for the 1969 ban. As a result, devotees who feared the change would forever alter the taste of their favorite soft drink moved quickly to purchase as many canned sodas as possible before the official start of the ban.

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Additional research since the implementation of the ban has led some to question the wisdom of removing cyclamate from regular usage. An official petition was made to the FDA in 1982, requesting a lift of the ban imposed thirteen years before. Today, well over fifty different countries around the world allow cyclamate to be used in products manufactured domestically.

Countries that do continue to allow the use of cyclamate as one of several approved artificial sweeteners often do impose limits on the amount of the product that can be used in a single unit of any commercially prepared food or beverage. One reason for this action is to minimize the chances of ingesting large quantities of the sweetener during the course of any twenty-four hour period. The limitations usually have to do with contemporary research that indicates cyclamate converts in the body at a more rapid pace than previously thought.

It is not unusual for countries that participate in the European Union to allow the use of this sugar substitute. In addition to use in soft drinks, the sweetener may also be found in products containing milk and various brands of fruit juices. Research continues on the potential negative effects of cyclamate, along with research into all types of artificial sweeteners.

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