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Acesulphame K or potassium acesulphame is a sugar substitute manufactured by Nutrinova (formerly, Hoechst) and sold under the brand names "Sunnet" and "Sweet One". It is approximately 180 times sweeter than sugar.

For several years acesulfame-K was only licensed by the FDA for use such foods such as sugar-free baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts, but in 1998 the chemical was allowed to be used in soft drinks, greatly increasing consumer exposure. It is often used together with sucralose or other sweeteners, because it leaves a bitter after-taste.

Despite FDA approval (closely followed as usual by UK and other European ‘authorities’), the fact is that acesulfame K is at least as toxic as aspartame and may be a carcinogen in humans. The US FDA based its approval on badly flawed tests carried out by the manufacturer, that fell well short of even its own flexible standards, and there have in fact been a number of animal tests linking it to lung tumours, leukaemia and chronic respiratory disease. The real ‘safety testing’ is as usual being carried out on the population at large.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI - a Washington-based non-profit consumer watchdog) initially urged the FDA not to approve acesulfame K becuase of ‘considerable doubts’ as to its safety, but was ignored due to industry pressure. After the FDA approval the chemical, the CSPI continued to campaign for a ban on use in food, but has been similarly ignored by the FDA. From the CPSI web page:

. acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, has been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Administration of 1% and 5% acetoacetamide in the diet for three months caused benign thyroid tumors in rats. The rapid appearance of tumors raises serious questions about the chemical’s carcinogenic potency."

Acesulphame K has also been shown to stimulate insulin secretion, increase blood cholesterol levels and to aggravate hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels), but despite this a large amount of industry-sponsored ‘research’ continues to be pumped out to ‘prove’ its safety.

Please feel free to post your own experiences using the comments area below.


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