The Aspartame Information service responds to allegations made in research funded by Organix Brands PLC
The Aspartame Information service has dismissed allegations about the safety
of aspartame made in a research paper published by Karen Lau and co-workers in
Toxicological Sciences reporting a study funded by Organix Brands PLC.
Aspartame is made from two amino acids, parts of protein, identical to those
found in, for example, meat, cheese, fish, or mothers' milk. When we consume
aspartame, it is broken down in the digestive system to very small quantities of
common dietary components. Aspartame therefore brings nothing new to the
The two amino acids in aspartame are aspartic acid and phenylalanine. We
consume these amino acids in much greater quantities in foods we eat daily as
part of our normal diet. For example, a glass of milk (220 ml) contains seven
times as much aspartic acid and more than three times as much phenylalanine as a
serving (330 ml) of soft drink sweetened with aspartame alone. A new born baby
will obtain more aspartic acid and phenylalanine from his mother's breast milk
every day than there is in a litre of soft drink sweetened with aspartame.
The paper reports an experiment in which mouse cells were exposed in the
laboratory to undigested aspartame. Exposing mouse cells to aspartame in this
way has no relevance to human health. As noted above, aspartame is broken down
by the digestive system to its component parts and does not enter the body. This
paper does not, therefore, provide any meaningful information about aspartame
Aspartame has been in safe use for 25 years. It has been reviewed and
approved by governments in more than 130 countries, by the European Commission's
Scientific Committee on Food and by experts of the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation.
In its review of aspartame published in December 2002, the European
Commission's Scientific Committee on Foods stated, "Aspartame is unique among
the intense sweeteners in that the intake of its component parts can be compared
with intakes of the same substances from natural foods."
By providing sweetness without calories, aspartame makes a useful
contribution to a healthy diet. It is particularly unhelpful to scare people
about a safe and wholesome food ingredient that helps people to control their
calorie intake at a time when governments and health authorities are
increasingly concerned about obesity and overweight.
20 December 2005