Take saccharin off carcinogen list, government advisers recommend

December 20, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

A government advisory group has voted to give a clean bill of health to the artificial sweetener saccharin, which, despite its pink-packeted presence on restaurant tables everywhere, has been classified since 1981 as a suspected cause of cancer.

The group, the executive committee of the National Toxicology Program, voted 6-3 Wednesday to recommend that saccharin be removed from the government's list of suspected carcinogens, said a scientist who attended its meeting and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The toxicology program is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and its role is to coordinate government programs that evaluate the safety of chemicals to which people are exposed, including substances such as saccharin that are added to foods.

The committee's vote is not the final word on saccharin, but it carries weight with policy-makers. The vote will be considered by the toxicology agency director, who is to make a recommendation about saccharin in a Report on Carcinogens that will be presented next summer to Donna E. Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services, and later to Congress.

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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