Written Answers. - Use of Saccharine.

122.

asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the health risk from the use of saccharine; that all food products in the United States containing saccharine carry the health warning that saccharine has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals; if he considers such a warning necessary here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I should point out that there are at present no statutory controls over saccharine.

However, its use is monitored by the public analysts in the overall context of ensuring that no sweeteners are sold which are harmful to health. This control is exercised under the general powers contained in the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts.

The EC Scientific Committee for Food has produced a report for the EC Commission on the use of specific sweeteners including saccharine, and has recommended that the average daily intake of saccharine should not exceed 0.25mg/kg of body weight. I have informed the public analysts of the health boards and the food industry of the SCF recommendations and I will also be keeping the CEOs of the health boards informed on the matter.

On the basis of the findings of this Committee, the EC Commission is currently examining sweeteners, including saccharine, against the background of a proposed new Directive on Food Additives, which it is hoped will be finalised over the coming months.

When finalised, I can assure the Deputy that steps will be taken to implement it in this country as soon as possible.