Sucralose is made from regular table sugar, or sucrose. The process replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar atom with three chlorine atoms, which creates an artificial sweetener that gives the taste of sugar without the calories. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than ordinary sugar.
Since sucralose is so much sweeter than sugar, only small amounts are required to artificially sweeten foods and beverages, such as ice cream, sodas, yogurt and teas. It is also extremely stable under high heat, making it suitable for cooking and baking.
In the body, sucralose behaves differently than sugar. While it activates the same taste buds on the tongue, the body does not break down sucralose for energy. Most of what is consumed simply passes through the body, unabsorbed.
Sucralose was first discovered in 1976 by researchers at Tate & Lyle and Elizabeth College in London. Scientists there found that they could intensify the sweetness of sugar and remove its caloric impact by making changes to its molecular structure. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved sucralose for use in certain foods and beverages, and in 1999 expanded that approval to all food and beverage types. More than 100 studies have studied the effects of sucralose and have found the additive safe for consumption. As of 2015, sucralose is approved for use in more than 80 countries.