Controversy developed when, in 1966, a study reported that some intestinal bacteria could desulfonate cyclamate to producecyclohexylamine, a compound suspected to have some chronic toxicity in animals. Further research resulted in a 1969 study that found the common 10:1 cyclamate:saccharin mixture to increase the incidence of bladder cancer in rats. The released study was showing that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 350 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors.
Sales continue to expand, and in 1969 there were $1 billion in annual sales of cyclamate, which increased pressure from public safety watchdogs to restrict the use of cyclamate. In October 1969, Department of Health, Education & Welfare Secretary Robert Finch bypassed the Commissioner Herbert L. Ley, Jr. of the Food and Drug Administration and removed the GRAS designation from cyclamate and banned its use in general purpose foods, though it remained available for restricted use in dietary products with additional labeling; in October 1970 the Food and Drug Administration under a new FDA commisssioner banned cyclamate completely from all food and drug products in the United States.
Abbott Laboratories claimed that its own studies were unable to reproduce the 1969 study's results, and, in 1973, Abbott petitioned the FDA to lift the ban on cyclamate. This petition was eventually denied in 1980 by FDA Commissioner Jere Goyan. Abbott Labs, together with the Calorie Control Council (a political lobby representing the diet foods industry), filed a second petition in 1982. Although the FDA has stated that a review of all available evidence does not implicate cyclamate as a carcinogen in mice or rats,cyclamate remains banned from food products in the United States. The petition is now held in abeyance, though not actively considered. It is unclear whether this is at the request of Abbott Labs or because the petition is considered to be insufficient by the FDA.Now, think about this. The best evidence is based on a study where rats drank the equivalent of 350 sodas a day. From this evidence, it was banned. Since then, even this tenuous risk cannot be reproduced, even the FDA admits they cannot be reproduced, yet they continue the ban "just in case".
I argued in "Fear Driven Enterprises" and elsewhere that the government is driven by fear, and will always choose to ban rather than allow, as allowing a danger will create career ending bad publicity, while no one will know if something useful or beneficial is banned. Thus, the state will always be excessively cautious, to the point of actively doing harm by banning beneficial, and harmless, substances.
I shall write more about this later, but for now, I think this provides one of the best examples I have found. Even more so since even to this day the public mostly believe saccharine to be harmful, even though studies later demonstrated the risk was specific to the physiology of female rat bladders, a system with little in common with humans.
For those interested, my comments on the risks of regulation and consumer protection can be found in the following essays: "Consumer Protection", "How the Government Corrupts Relationships", "Consumer Protection, Cartels and the Failure of Regulation", "Consolidation and Diffusion", "For Your Own Good", "Business Licensing and Regulation", "Inspections, Regulations and Bans", "Why "Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst" is Bad Policy", "GMO Revisited - As Well as Hormones, Soy, Phytoestrogens, and a Host of Other Food Scares", "Gun Control, The FDA and Regulating the Law Abiding", ""Better Safe Than Sorry" Usually Leaves Us Even More Sorry, And Much Less Safe", "A Misleading "Right to Know"", "Oven Mitts and Safety Regulation"