Sweetener Side Effects: Case Histories
Researchers Cite 2 Patients Who Suffered Severe Weight Loss From Heavy Use of Sorbitol
What's a 'Safe' Amount of Sorbitol?
The FDA requires a warning label on a product with sorbitol if the
manufacturer thinks the consumption would exceed 50 grams a day, according to
an FDA spokesperson.
But levels under 50 grams of sorbitol daily may cause problems for some
people, says Patti Truant, a spokeswoman for the Center for Science in the
Public Interest in Washington, D.C. In 1999, the center petitioned the FDA to
require a better label on sorbitol-containing products, noting that problems
such as diarrhea can occur with as few as 10 grams a day of the sweetener.
Sorbitol Manufacturers Respond
The cases reported in BMJ involved excesses, says Chris Perille, a
spokesman for the William Wrigley Jr. Company, which makes chewing gum
containing sorbitol (including its brands Extra, Orbit, Freedent, and
"To reach the threshold of excessive consumption of sorbitol through use
of gum alone [at levels set by the FDA], someone would have to chew close to 50
sticks or 100 pellets of gum daily," he says. In the U.S., he adds, the
average per capita gum consumption is just one stick every other day.
The ingredient is safe and effective "when used as directed," adds
Tonia Elrod, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of Crest
toothpaste, which contains sorbitol.