Remember saccharin? The popular sweetener, used in everything from soda to toothpaste, was the target of a wrathful health crusade back in the 1990s. Thanks to several studies that allegedly connected saccharin to cancer in lab rats, a wave of fearmongering hit the nation over the its alleged carcinogenic effects. Spearheading the hysteria were (naturally) the mendacious scolds at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

CSPI continued to stoke outrage about saccharin even after the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program (NTP) took it off its “possible carcinogen” list. The Environmental Protection Agency also continued to fret about the saccharin’s alleged health negatives.

Today, however, the EPA is admitting it made a mistake:

Without any fanfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it was dropping the crystalline powder — widely used in diet soft drinks, chewing gum, juice and toothpaste — from its list of hazardous substances.

“Saccharin is no longer considered a potential hazard to human health,” the EPA said in the announcement.

This leaves … well, just CSPI. After the NTP took action, CSPI president Michael Jacobson denounced the decision. Would anyone at CSPI care to comment on the issue now? Anyone? (Bueller?)

We’re glad the EPA finally came to its senses, but this is a timely reminder that government can get science wrong just as easily as single-issue activists. Just because the feds consider a particular food or beverage harmful doesn’t mean it is.

And while the EPA is issuing mea culpas, we hope it gets around to also admitting that its fish recommendations need to be gutted. We don’t expect mercury to be the next saccharin, but tuna fish certainly should be.