The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) risk assessment has concluded that aspartame poses no threat to consumers at its current levels.
Alicja Mortensen, chair of EFSA’s panel on food additives and nutrient sources added to foods (ANS Panel), said: “This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. 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.”
The experts on the ANS Panel considered all the available information and, following a detailed analysis, decided that the current acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg body weight per day (bw/day) is safe for the general population.
The EFSA was keen to highlight that this would not be the case for anybody with the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU), as they must follow a diet low in aspartame.
Experts on the ANS Panel reviewed evidence from both animal and human studies before publishing their opinion, which was discussed at an All Party Parliamentary Food & Health forum at the House of Commons yesterday (December 10th).
The review rules out any potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer. EFSA experts also concluded that the artificial sweetener poses no harm to the brain or the nervous system and does not effect behaviour or cognitive function in children or adults.
In terms of pregnancy, the ANS Panel advised that there is no risk to the developing foetus from exposure to the phenylalanine derived from aspartame at the current ADI (with the exception of women suffering from PKU).
Experts on the panel also made it clear that the breakdown products of aspartame (phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid) are also naturally occurring in other foods, for example, methanol is found in fruit and vegetables. The report notes: “The contribution of breakdown products of aspartame to the overall dietary exposure to these substances is low.”
EFSA’s report echoes a study undertaken by the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, which also stated that aspartame posed no risk the public health.