Safety of artificial food sweetener aspartame reconfirmed

8 May, 2006. safefood has been monitoring developments in relation to the artificial food sweetener aspartame and in particular recent concerns over the potential carcinogenicity of this substance. Based on the information currently available, aspartame is considered safe for use as an artificial sweetener.

In 2005, the Cancer Research Centre of the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences (Ramazzini Institute) published the findings of its research into the carcinogenic effects of aspartame. These findings claimed to show a carcinogenic effect in rats, at doses equivalent to the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) established for human consumption (40mg/kg body weight). 

The European Commission subsequently requested that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) review these findings and the outcome of this review was released on Friday, 5th May 2006.

EFSA has reconfirmed the safety of aspartame, following an evaluation of the Ramazzini Institute findings and other studies on aspartame that have been carried out since the most recent evaluation was undertaken by the European Commission in 2002. They concluded, on the basis of all the evidence currently available, that there is no need to further review the findings of the 2002 evaluation, nor to revise the established ADI.

It also noted that dietary exposure to aspartame, which was assessed in a number of European countries, was well below the ADI, even in high-usage consumers.

Therefore, there is still no sound scientific evidence to corroborate reports by individuals claiming to have experienced an adverse reaction following the consumption of foods containing aspartame.

safefood reiterates its recommendation that a healthy balanced diet will probably contain little, or no amount of aspartame, which tends to be used in unheated food products such as soft drinks, yoghurts, chilled desserts, crisps and chewing gums. It is also available as a table-top sweetener.  With the exception of yoghurt, these foods should only be consumed in small amounts as part of a healthy balanced diet.
 
safefood will continue to monitor developments in relation to aspartame.

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For further information please contact

Fiona Gilligan
safefood
Tel: (01) 448 0060

Andrew Hyland or Sharon Murphy   
WHPR       
Tel: 01 6690030