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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 19, 2011

EXPENSIVE SUGAR OR CHEAP SACCHARIN, WHICH?

JAMA. 2011;306(15):1715. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1432

CURRENT COMMENT

We have already called attention to the fact that, based on the findings of the referee board, the government has declared the use of saccharin in foodstuffs illegal. This official decision, made in April of this year, was to go into effect July 1, 1911. Immediately the makers of saccharin brought pressure to bear at Washington to have the time extended in which the use of their product in foods would be legal. The appeal was granted and the sophisticators of foods—and others —were officially notified that they might continue to use saccharin in the place of sugar until Jan. 1, 1912. Now as the time of probation draws to a close, the saccharin-makers are again appealing to Washington. The summer of 1911 has been an extremely hard one on the sugar-refiners. As every one knows, the price of sugar has steadily risen and there is every indication that it will go still higher. Under such conditions, it is natural that those manufacturers of foodstuffs who are more concerned with personal profits than public health should see in the present shortage of the sugar-crop the chance of a lifetime to substitute saccharin for sugar. Evidently then the demand for saccharin is likely to be greater within the next few months than it has been for years. This fact has been taken into account in Europe by the calling of an international conference to prevent the illegal use of saccharin, reference to which has been made in THE JOURNAL.1 Most European nations have long forbidden the use of saccharin in foodstuffs. Great Britain, while not forbidding its use, puts a prohibitive tax on the product so that in that country it is practically as cheap to use sugar as saccharin. It now remains to be seen whether the three secretaries—the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce and Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury—will again extend the period of probation for the use of this drug.

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