The artificial sweetener aspartame poses no health risks at currently approved consumption levels, according to a report by the European Union’s food safety watchdog released today.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said it had undertaken “one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken” including both animal and human studies.
“This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken,” said the chair of EFSA’s panel on food additives and nutrient sources Dr Alicja Mortensen.
“It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives.”
“It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives”
Dr Alicja Mortensen
Experts on the panel concluded current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40mg/kg bw/day was safe for the general population, although patients suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU) should follow strict adherence to a diet low in phenylalanine (an amino acid found in proteins).
The finding by the EFSA is a major boost for companies such as Coca-Cola, which uses aspartame in products including Diet Coke and Coke Zero.
In August, the company took out newspaper adverts in its home city of Atlanta to address consumer fears over the safety of the ingredient after studies linked it to health risks, including cancer and premature birth. The scare stories were subsequently blamed for a drop in sales of diet soda products in the US.
“The final opinion issued today by the European Food Safety Authority once again confirms the safety of the low calorie sweetener aspartame,” said Barbara Gallani, director of regulation, science and health at the Food and Drink Federation.
“The opinion is based on the most complete and thorough review of all available scientific evidence ever undertaken and re-states EFSA’s prior opinions as well as conclusions of a number of other independent bodies around the world,” she added. “Low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame have an important role to play in enabling food and drink manufacturers to offer consumers reduced calorie choices.”