Artificial sweetener, Splenda had been declared safe - AP

HEALTH watchdogs have rejected claims that the artificial sweetener sucralose, sold around the world as Splenda, is a cancer risk.

Last year, an Italian study triggered alarm with claims of a link between consumption, leukaemia and other cancers.

The trial by the Ramazzini Institute, which has a history of questioning the safety of artificial sweeteners, involved a feeding study with mice. The findings triggered a warning from consumer groups that people should avoid the sweetener.

However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which set up an expert panel to assess the research, has now ruled that Splenda is safe.

It said there were flaws with the way the Italian research was designed and the evidence did not support the claims of a health threat.

Splenda was developed in Britain by researchers at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, and the sugar company Tate & Lyle in 1976.

Made from sugar but with zero calories, it is now the biggest selling sweetener in terms of supermarket sales on both sides of the Atlantic.

It has also been used to sweeten more than 5,000 products in over 80 countries, including diet drinks, cakes, ice cream and breakfast cereals.

© Daily Mail