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EFSA Consults on its First Full Risk Assessment of Aspartame

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EFSA Consults on its First Full Risk Assessment of Aspartame

EFSA Consults on its First Full Risk Assessment of Aspartame
January 10
12:29 2013

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame. To carry out this full risk assessment, EFSA has undertaken an in-depth review of peer-reviewed scientific and other literature on aspartame and its breakdown products, including new human studies. All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to comment on the draft opinion through the online public consultation by 15 February 2013. As part of this important process and the Authority’s commitment to actively engaging with stakeholders, EFSA will also hold a meeting with interested parties to discuss its draft opinion and the feedback received from the online public consultation.

Regulatory bodies around the world have evaluated the safety of aspartame since the 1980s; however, this is the first full evaluation of aspartame that has been requested of EFSA and has been carried out by the Authority’s Scientific Panel on Food Additive and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS Panel). In this re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame, EFSA’s scientific experts have drawn upon all available information on aspartame and its breakdown products and, following a detailed and methodical analysis, have concluded in this draft opinion that they pose no toxicity concern for consumers at current levels of exposure. The current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) is considered to be safe for the general population and consumer exposure to aspartame is below this ADI.

In setting the ADI, the ANS Panel considered findings from long-term studies conducted in experimental animals related to toxicity and carcinogenicity and possible adverse health effects of phenylalanine, one of aspartame’s breakdown products, on the developing fetus. Phenylalanine is an amino acid making up protein found in many foods. It is known to be toxic at high intake levels, in particular to the developing fetus in women suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU). This inherited disorder increases blood phenylalanine concentrations to levels toxic to the developing brain. The Panel confirmed that the ADI, while protective of the general population, is not applicable to people who suffer from PKU, as they require strict adherence to a low phenylalanine diet.

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