Sucralose and The Environment

Your Questions AnsweredAbout the Environment

Have the environmental properties of sucralose been reviewed by regulatory authorities?

Yes.  Environmental data was reviewed as part of the United Kingdom (UK) Sucralose Food Additive Petition in the 1990’s.  In addition, the US FDA reviewed the potential for environmental impacts in the late 1990’s.  Regulatory authorities agreed that sucralose posed no risk to the environment (FDA 1999).

How does sucralose enter into the environment?

Sucralose is used and consumed by humans in many food and beverage products.  Sucralose is not well adsorbed into the human body and as such sucralose is excreted from the human body in its original form.  Once excreted from the human body, sucralose enters wastewater treatment plants and then surface waters.

Is sucralose measured in the environment?

Sucralose has been detected in the environment, as is most of what people consume and excrete as part of daily life, with most of the reports stemming from sucralose in various water bodies, such as lakes, rivers and streams. These detections are not surprising given that sucralose was predicted in the original UK Food Additive Petition to be present in water bodies.  The concentrations of sucralose reported today are similar to those predicted in the 1990’s prior to the market introduction of sucralose.

Can sucralose be degraded in the environment?

Sucralose is inherently biodegradable, meaning that sucralose will degrade over time in soil and sediment.

Does sucralose accumulate in the tissues of plants and wildlife?

Published studies by the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Swedish Environmental Research Institute, and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research determined that sucralose does not bioaccumulate in aquatic plants, invertebrates, and fish (Brorström-Lundén, E et al. 2008 Part I and Brorström-Lundén, E et al. 2008 Part II).

Is sucralose toxic to plants and wildlife?

No.  A series of short and long term ecotoxicological studies with plants and animals have been conducted with sucralose.  These studies follow internationally validated and accepted methodologies.  No adverse effects (e.g. survival, growth and reproduction) were observed in these studies.  In fact, the concentrations of sucralose utilized in these studies are higher than those detected in the environment.

Is the science around sucralose in the environment being continually reviewed and assessed?

Yes.  New reports and publications related to sucralose in the environment are routinely monitored.  It is important to review these reports to ensure that sucralose is safe for the environment.  In 2012, a re-review of all sucralose environmental data was published by Norwegian and American scientists in the journal Science of the Total Environment (Tollefsen et al., 2012). Based on the original data from the UK Food Additive Petition and newer published data, the scientists concluded that sucralose poses no risk to the environment.


Duane Huggett, Ph.D.
Environmental Toxicologist
Scientific Advisor to the Calorie Control Council

Supporting References:

Brorström-Lundén, E., Svenson, A., Viktor, T., Woldegiorgis, A., Remberger, M.,  Kaj, L., Dye, C., Bjerke, A., Schlabach, M. (2008). Measurements of Sucralose in the Swedish Screening Program 2007 -PART I; Sucralose in surface waters and STP samples. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Report No. B1769.

Brorström-Lundén, E., Svenson, A., Viktor, T., Woldegiorgis, A., Remberger, M.,  Kaj, L., Dye, C., Bjerke, A.; Schlabach, M. (2008). Measurements of Sucralose in the Swedish Screening program 2007. PART II; Sucralose in Biota samples and regional STP samples. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Report No. B1795.

US FDA. (1999).  Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption: Sucralose.  21 CFR Part 172, Docket No. 99F-0001.

Tollefsen, K.E., Nizzrtto, L., Huggett, D.B. (2012).  Presence, Fate and Effects of the Intense Sweetener Sucralose in the Aquatic Environment.  Science and the Total Environment.  438:510-516.

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