EFSA’s re-evaluation of aspartame due by end September 2012

Since 2002, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has kept the safety of aspartame under regular review and its Scientific Panels have issued several opinions on studies related to this sweetener. Currently, this work is carried out by the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS). In May 2011, EFSA was asked by the European Commission to bring forward the full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame (E 951) to 2012. Previously planned for completion by 2020, the review of this sweetener is part of the systematic re-evaluation of all food additives authorised in the EU prior to 20 January 2009. Aspartame is a low-calorie, intense artificial sweetener. It is a white, odourless powder, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. In Europe, it is authorised to be used as a food additive in foodstuffs such as drinks, desserts, sweets, dairy, chewing gums, energy-reducing and weight control products and as a table-top sweetener. The sweetener aspartame and its breakdown products have been a matter of extensive investigation for more than 30 years including experimental animal studies, clinical research, intake and epidemiological studies and post-marketing surveillance. It has been found to be safe and authorised for human consumption for many years and in many countries following thorough safety assessments. In the European Union (EU) the label on foodstuffs containing aspartame must state its presence, indicating either its name or its E number (E 951). EFSA accepted this mandate and launched a public call for scientific data as well as a thorough literature review. EFSA received access to a large number of both published and unpublished scientific studies and datasets following the call for data, which closed on 30 September 2011. Reaffirming its commitment to openness and transparency, the Authority published the full list of these scientific studies and also made publicly available previously unpublished scientific data including the 112 original documents on aspartame which were submitted to support the request for authorisation of aspartame in Europe in the early 1980s. The ANS Panel started its risk assessment of aspartame in early 2012 and is due to complete it by September 2012.

European Food Safety Authority, May 2012 ;http://www.efsa.europa.eu ;