By: Jayson Kroner, C.S.N.
The television commercials are brilliantly-crafted fusions of dancing plum fairies waving wands of calorie-free pixie dust. The advertising slogan is legendary; a perfectly penned typeset tap-dance that’s been delicately dusted with the sweet, sweet overtones of sugary goodness for all those wise enough to jump on this now billion dollar bandwagon. You’ve got to hand it to the marketing efforts that continue to fuel the sales of Splenda®.
This unheard of and seemingly overnight success has crowned Splenda® the number one selling branded sweetener in the United States. It is available in over 80 countries and can be found in more than 4,000 products. But in light of its mainstream recognition, a number of questions have yet to be answered. Is it natural? Is it safe? Has the American public been duped into believing that this “chemical” sweetener might actually be healthy? What aren’t they telling us?
At the core of this confusion, is one of the most controversial marketing slogans ever put down on paper; “Tastes like sugar, because it’s made from sugar”. And yes, there is a bit of truth to this. Splenda® does, in fact, start off as a sugar molecule. However, the product that remains at the end of a patented 5 step process isn’t even close to what most people know as “sugar.” Sadly, the average health seeking consumer doesn’t have the time, the resources, or the motivation to investigate this multi-million dollar marketing genius. And honestly, why would they? After all, it’s made from sugar, right? Let’s not kid ourselves. One trip to the company’s website is all it takes to quickly realize that Splenda® is not natural, and it is most certainly not sugar. Splenda® is a synthesized chemical, plain and simple. Speaking of chemicals, the name itself waves a red flag all its own. Sucralose, the chemical also known as Splenda®, bears a remarkable resemblance to the word sucrose—a word used to define common white table sugar. But make no mistake, by the time “sucralose” finds its way into those bright yellow packets, there isn’t much left to suggest that sugar ever existed.
Here’s how it’s done: Starting with a molecule of sugar, three hydroxyl groups (atoms composed of hydrogen and oxygen) are selectively removed and replaced with three atoms of chlorine. That’s right, chlorine. By the time the process has been carried out to completion, said sugar molecule has been transformed into a chlorocarbon. And in case you’re not familiar with chlorocarbons, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Chlorocarbons are non-natural substances. A few of their more well known family members include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene and methylene chloride— chemical agents that have absolutely no place in a healthy, human diet. On its own, chlorine is commonly founds in a number of insecticides, bleach and bleach-based products, as well as household and commercial disinfectants. Some of the more famous members of this group include DDT, Chlorodane and Lindane.
The company brags of extensive research that demonstrates its safety. Keep in mind, though, that the majority of the studies used to gain approval as a food additive were conducted on lab rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals.
The point to be made here is that you, as a health-minded consumer, have the right to know what you’re putting in your body. If you’re under the impression that those little yellow packets contain something natural, you might want to reconsider your options. Or at the very least, do some more homework.
Because honestly, if their marketing slogan read something along the lines of, “Tastes 600 times sweeter than sugar, because it’s made with chlorine,” how fast would you run out and buy some?
Think about it.