Progress on EFSA evaluation of aspartame

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th January 2013

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS), has published its draft re-evaluation of aspartame.

Aspartame is used as an artificial sweetener to replace sugar in foods and drinks and although currently regarded as safe, when used to the permitted limits, has been widely discussed by Australian and international food authorities.

The Panel’s draft re-evaluation report says that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg bw/day is safe and not in need of revision. The ADI prescribes the healthy amount that a substance may be consumed daily, over an entire lifetime.

On 8 January 2013, an EFSA spokesperson said “the ANS Panel has taken all available information including new human safety data into consideration, and the draft opinion addresses the potential safety concerns related to toxicity carcinogenicity and genotoxicity as well as possible reproductive and developmental effects related to aspartame and its metabolites and breakdown products”.

EFSA has produced previous publications on aspartame. In 2009, after studies suggesting aspartame as a cause of cancer, EFSA published an updated scientific opinion announcing that it did in fact not cause cancer. This view was repeated in 2011.

The ANS Panel has now invited submissions from the public on the latest draft re-evaluation, published on EFSA’s website.

EFSA’s current regulatory stance on the use of aspartame is similar to the Australian regulatory views expressed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).