SWEETENER SLAUGHTER; 12,800 animals die for no-calorie pills Dogs were killed after 52 weeks of treatment by exsanguination.
BEAGLES were among thousands of animals killed in laboratory tests on a new artificial sweetener.
The dogs probably had their throats cut, while marmoset monkeys died from brain damage and rabbits were poisoned during a 20-year study into the effects of Sucralose.
The sweetener - sold in the United States as Splenda - is expected to be on sale in the UK in a couple of months.
Researchers estimate that 12,800 animals died during the research.
The death toll came to light in articles published in a scientific journal.
Sucralose - which is 600 times sweeter than sugar - is the first no-calorie sugar-based sweetener to be developed.
It is set to be a money- spinner for British sugar giant Tate & Lyle, who commissioned the research.
But thousands of animals died in a series of gruesome laboratory experiments to test the sweetener both here and in the US, anti-vivisection campaigners have revealed.
In the most shocking tests, 32 beagle dogs were locked in metal cages for 52 weeks at the McNeil Speciality Products labs in New Jersey.
They were given Sucralose mixed in with their normal feed, and blood and urine samples were collected.
At the end of the study they were anaesthetised and had their throats slit open so they bled to death.
They were then cut open and their organs - by now drained of blood so easier to dissect - were examined to test the product's toxicity levels.
A report of the study was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
It read: "Dogs were killed after 52 weeks of treatment by exsanguination (draining of blood) while under anaesthesia and examined."
Thousands of monkeys, rabbits, mice and rats were killed during tests in the UK.
In one experiment at the controversial Huntingdon Research Centre in Cambridgeshire four beagle puppies were starved before being force-fed Sucralose through tubes.
Researchers took blood samples from the animals' jugular veins and examined their urine and faeces to discover the effect of Sucralose on their metabolisms.
It is unclear whether the puppies survived or not.
An unspecified number of marmoset monkeys died or were killed after they were force-fed Sucralose at the Life Science Research lab in Eye, Suffolk, now part of Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Twelve male monkeys aged under 10 months were examined and force-fed Sucralose for seven weeks.
On the seventh day of the study two of the monkeys died from brain defects, a third was killed after four weeks and the remainder of the brain-damaged animals were put down. In another British-based experiment, also carried out at Eye, rabbits were given a dose of Sucralose 1,200 times the expected human daily intake. Many died from trauma.
Others suffered extreme weight loss, convulsions and intestinal disorders.
Tests on pregnant rabbits and thousands of mice and rats were also carried out at Huntingdon.
Experiments, which have not been published, were also carried out at labs at Inveresk, near Edinburgh, and at Covance at Harrogate, Yorkshire. The British Union For The Abolition Of Vivisection (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), estimates tens of thousands of animals have died.
BUAV's director of research Sarah Kite said: "They are particularly nasty. Animals have been made to suffer and die simply to put out another sweetener which we don't need.
"These appalling tests, which usually involve slitting the animals' throats, are legal, but we feel they should not be allowed in this country." Sucralose is already on sale in 40 countries including the US - where it is marketed under licence by Johnson & Johnson - Australia and Canada. It is sold as tiny sweetener tablets or as a powder for use in soft drinks, ice cream and jams.
Tate & Lyle has applied to the European Union and the UK's Food Standards Agency for approval to release Sucralose.
Tate & Lyle divisional managing director Austin Maguire said: "We have done the minimum number of tests required. Sucralose is unique. Consumers welcome that additional choice." A spokesman for Huntingdon Life Sciences - bailed out by the Government this year when its bank became the focus for protests and withdrew their loan - said: "We would only do these tests if there was no alternative.
"Most were done at Huntingdon some years ago and are not happening now."
A Home Office spokesman said: "Anyone who wants to do safety testing has to show a clear necessity for using animals to gain a licence."
COMMENT: Page 8
TESTS: Huntingdon Research; VICTIM: Marmoset; IMAGE: The sweetener's UK logo; TO DIE FOR: Beagles like this were fed Sucralose for a year. Research animals usually then have their throats cut; PROFIT: On sale as Splenda in US