What Is Sucralose and Is It Safe?

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is safe to use.
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Question: I'm trying to figure out if Splenda and sucralose are the same things. I know they're artificial sweeteners, and I like Splenda. Will sucralose work just as well in baking and cooking? Also, how safe is sucralose?

Answer: Sucralose and Splenda are the same thing. Splenda is the brand name version of sucralose products sold by McNeill Nutritionals. But you'll usually see generic sucralose at most grocery stores.

Sucralose is also found in some brands of diet sodas, yogurt and breakfast cereal. Individually-sized yellow sucralose packets are found in most restaurants and coffee shops.

Both Splenda and generic sucralose are heat stable so they can be used for baking and cooking at home. 

How Is Sucralose Made?

Sucralose is made from regular white table sugar, which biochemically is known as sucrose. During the manufacturing process, three hydrogen-oxygen groups are replaced with chlorine atoms on every sucrose molecule. The resulting product is about 600 times sweeter than sugar, so only a tiny amount is needed to sweeten foods and beverages. 

The addition of the chlorine also means your body doesn't recognize it as sugar, so the molecules aren't broken down, so the chlorine doesn't break off. Also, almost all of the sucralose you consume passes through your digestive system without being absorbed. Sucralose is literally calorie-free.

Sucralose Safety Record 

Sucralose has been used safely as an artificial sweetener for over 20 years. Canada was the first country to approve it for use in foods and beverages. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sucralose in 1998 after reviewing 110 scientific studies. It was approved for use by everyone including pregnant women and children.

Twenty years of follow-up research have shown sucralose to be safe for humans to consume and there don't appear to be any problems with short term or long term use. Sucralose doesn't seem to interact with other foods or medications. 

Occasionally someone will express concern about the addition of chlorine because it's found in bleach. But don't let the chlorine scare you. Chlorine (as chloride) is also found in table salt, lettuce, and mushrooms. Not that it matters, since sucralose isn't digested, the chlorine isn't released into your system.

There are a few anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to sucralose, and some very dubious websites claim sucralose ingestion causes several illnesses including thymus damage. That claim is based on one laboratory study where young rats fed sucralose, and low-calorie laboratory diets suffered from shrinking thymus glands (the thymus gland is essential for immune system function).

But here's the thing -- that's a typical response that rats have when they're under stress due to weight loss, no matter what caused the weight loss and it isn't particular to sucralose consumption.

Just to be sure, follow-up studies were performed, and no evidence of immune system dysfunction was found.


Fitch C, Keim KS; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners." J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):739-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009.

Grotz VL1, Munro IC. "An overview of the safety of sucralose." Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;55(1):1-5.

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