Saccharin is one of the oldest artificial sweeteners, discovered in 1879. It is highly sweet, around 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar, and is often used as a sugar substitute in various foods and beverages. Saccharin is known for its intense sweetness without adding calories, making it popular in diet and low-calorie products.​

This nonnutritive sweetener has  an unpleasant bitter or metallic off-taste that’s usually masked, with other substances.​

It's usually used in its salt forms: ammonium saccharin, calcium saccharin, and sodium saccharin forms to improve solubility.​

Saccharin was the subject of controversy in the past regarding its safety, but it has been approved for use in foods and beverages in both United States by FDA and European Union by EFSA.​

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Source and Processing

Saccharin is a synthetic compound and is not extracted from natural sources. It is derived from the chemical reaction of anthranilic acid with nitrous acid and sulfur dioxide. Production of saccharin occurs mainly in China, with significant amounts also manufactured in countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan. The process involves several steps of chemical synthesis to create the final sweetening compound.

Main function in Confections

In confections, saccharin is used as a sugar substitute to provide sweetness without the added calories of sugar. It is commonly found in sugar-free candies, cookies, jams, and soft drinks. Saccharin's intense sweetness allows manufacturers to use very small amounts to achieve the desired level of sweetness in products.

Molecular Structure

Saccharin is a 1,2- benzoisothiazol-3-(2H) on 1,1 dioxide.​

As the parent compound is only sparingly soluble in water, the sweetener is usually used as the sodium, ammonium or calcium salt.


  • Solubility: Saccharin in its salt form is highly soluble in water, which makes it easy to incorporate into a wide range of food and beverage products.​
  • Thermal Stability: Saccharin is stable at high temperatures, making it suitable for use in baked goods. However, prolonged exposure to heat can sometimes lead to a slightly bitter aftertaste, so it is often used in combination with other sweeteners in baking.​
  • Body Metabolism: Saccharin is not metabolized by the body. This means it passes through the digestive system without being absorbed, contributing no calories to the diet. It is excreted unchanged in the urine.


  • USA: Saccharin is approved for use in foods and beverages by the FDA. Delisted from the U.S. National Toxicology Program's Report on Carcinogens in 2000 due to new evidence showing it is not a carcinogen. It is labeled with a warning that it contains saccharin and should be used in moderation. See CFR 21 180.37​
  • EU: Also approved as a food additive. It is assigned an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), which specifies the amount that can be safely consumed daily over a person's lifetime. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has determined that saccharin is safe for consumption within these limits.

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