In 1969, NBC News reports on the FDA's investigation into the safety of the artificial sweetener cyclamate -- consumed at the time by more than 100 million Americans, mostly in diet soft drinks. (Note: the FDA later bans cyclamate in the U.S., although it remains in use in other countries.)
1969: FDA Investigates Safety of Cyclamate
CHET HUNTLEY: Food and Drug Commissioner Herbet Ley today asked for a review of research into the artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates. Lay asked the National Academy of Sciences to complete the work within thirty days. Cyclamates are the most widely used form of artificial sweeteners.
PAUL FRIEDMAN: More than a hundred million Americans use cyclamates, mostly in diet soft drinks, but in other low calories foods too. It’s big business, with over a billion dollars in diet soft drinks alone. The use of cyclamate has more than tripled over the last five years. Questions about cyclamates safety also have multiplied. In one FDA experiment, Dr. Marvin McGator pointed to a relationship between cyclamates and chromatin breakage in rats and suggested a need for further research into possible connections between cyclamates and cancer among other things.
Had you seen the amount of information we showed on film?
DR. HERBERT LEY: Not prior to yesterday when I met with and discussed at great length both Dr. (unintelligible) results and Dr. McGator’s results being investigated.
FRIEDMAN: But you were aware within the FDA circles that this research was being done, generally was being found?
LEY: I was aware of early work with some detect observed sometime in the spring. One does not move on incomplete work.
FRIEDMAN: Do you still consider cyclamates safe?
LEY: Cyclamates are safe within the present state of knowledge and scientific opinion available to me. I’ve indicated the steps that we are taking to convey this new information to the group of expert scientists who are reviewing the matter for us. At this point in time, cyclamates are safe. That is the way the federal register statement reads. This does not mean that with new data this situation may change.
WASHINGTON — Citing research suggesting that diet soft drinks and other artificially sweetened products actually contribute to weight gain, a new advocacy group is asking federal regulators to investigate whether manufacturers including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have engaged in false or misleading advertising.