The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Food Additives Panel has completed its first full risk assessment of aspartame (E951) and has concluded that the sweetener and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure.
The expert Panel reviewed all the available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including human and animal studies, in the course of the assessment. Panel Chair Dr Alicja Mortensen commented, “This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken.”
The experts were able to rule out the potential risk of aspartame damaging genes and inducing cancer and concluded that it does not harm the brain or nervous system and does not affect behaviour, cognitive function or foetal development. The breakdown products of aspartame, such as phenylalanine and methanol, are all found naturally in other foods and aspartame contributes little to overall dietary exposure.
The current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for aspartame of 40mg/kg bodyweight/day is considered protective for the general population, but not for people suffering from phenylketonuria, who must follow a strict diet low in phenylalanine.
The full panel opinion can be found here.