Sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener usually sold under the brand name Splenda. It's not poisonous, it doesn't cause cancer and it isn't a pesticide. Sucralose does not break down in the body and it doesn't release chlorine into your body.
It's manufactured from sugar, but in its finished form it's approximately 600 times sweeter, so very little is needed. Most sucralose passes through your digestive system without being absorbed. The small amount that's absorbed leaves the body through the urine.
Sucralose is made by adding three chlorine atoms to each molecule of sucrose. This process makes the sugar indigestible so the body doesn't recognize it as a carbohydrate. Since it isn't digested like sugar, the body isn't able to use it for energy, so no calories are consumed.
Don't let the chlorine scare you. Remember it's also found (as chloride) in table salt, lettuce and mushrooms. Twenty years of science has shown sucralose to be safe for humans to consume.
Sucralose is already found in many products such as diet sodas, yogurt and breakfast cereal. Individually-sized yellow Splenda packets are easy to spot in almost every restaurant and coffee shop to sweeten both hot and cold beverages.
It can be sprinkled on your cereal, in your coffee or used as an ingredient in cooking and baking. Splenda is available in large packages for use in baking and cooking. It's important to note that Splenda is a blend of sucralose and some starches that have some calories - so Splenda has about 95 calories per cup.
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's approved for use by everyone including pregnant women and children.
There are a few anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to sucralose, and some dubious websites claim it's a cause of several illnesses including thymus damage, which could affect the immune system. That claim is based on one laboratory study where young rats fed sucralose and low-calorie diets suffered from shrinking thymus glands. But that's a common response for rats when they are under stress due to weight loss for any reason and isn't specific to sucralose consumption. Follow-up studies did not discover any evidence of immune system dysfunction.
Other No-Calorie and Reduced Calorie Sweeteners
International Food Information Council. "Everything You Need to Know About Sucralose." June 2004.
Kille JW, Ford WC, McAnulty P, Tesh JM, Ross FW, Willoughby CR. "Sucralose: lack of effects on sperm glycolysis and reproduction in the rat." Food Chem Toxicol. 2000;38 Suppl 2:S19-29.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Facts About Sucralose." 2006.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners." J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Feb;104(2):255-75.