The EUs food safety watchdog has concluded aspartame is safe based on current guidelines

The EU's food safety watchdog has concluded aspartame is safe based on current guidelines

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, is safe for consumers at currently approved consumption levels, a study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded. 

The EFSA said today (10 December) that following a “thorough” review of evidence from animal and human studies, its experts have “ruled out a potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer”. The EFSA had carried out a previous review in 2011, but the European Commission ordered another review because of “new scientific evidence”.

In the latest study, EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS Panel) concluded that aspartame's current acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is “protective” for the general population, apart from people suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria. 

Aspartame is used in many low-calorie drinks and food and has been dogged by health concerns since it emerged in the 1980s. However, companies have strongly denied that the sweetener poses a health risk. In August, the Coca-Cola Company launched a US ad campaign to tackle health concerns around aspartame

Dr Alicja Mortensen, chair of the 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.” 

Trade group the International Sweeteners Association (ISA), which represents producers of sweeteners, welcomed the EFSA's opinion. "Conclusions about the safety of aspartame support a history of safe use for more than thirty years," the group said.