Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington said the food safety watchdog group had long rated sucralose as "safe" but is now placing it in the "caution" category pending a review of an unpublished study by an independent Italian laboratory that found the sweetener caused leukemia in mice.
The only previous long-term feeding studies in animals were conducted by the compound's manufacturers, Jacobson said.
CSPI's Chemical Cuisine gives the artificial sweeteners saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame potassium "avoid" ratings, the group's lowest. However, the CSPI considers rebiana, a natural high-potency sweetener obtained from stevia, to be "safe," though deserving of better testing, Jacobson said.
"Sucralose may prove to be safer than saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame potassium, but the forthcoming Italian study warrants careful scrutiny before we can be confident that the sweetener is safe for use in food," Jacobson said in a statement.