Ajinomoto to see Asda in High Court

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Law Aspartame Asda

Aspartame supplier Ajinomoto is closer to securing an early resolution to its legal dispute with Asda after winning its bid for a preliminary hearing...

Aspartame supplier Ajinomoto is closer to securing an early resolution to its legal dispute with Asda after winning its bid for a preliminary hearing at London’s High Court.

Ajinomoto launched legal action against Asda last year after Asda refused to change the wording on its 'Good For You' range, which describes aspartame as a ‘hidden nasty’ along with hydrogenated fat, artificial colours and artificial flavours. It has also banned the use of aspartame in its own-label range.
A High Court judge will now decide whether such terminology amounts to malicious falsehood.
An Ajinomoto spokesman said: “The judge found for Ajinomoto in our request for an early preliminary hearing and, as Asda had opposed it, we have been awarded costs to cover expenses incurred in the application.” The preliminary hearing, in which barristers for both sides will be present, should take place before the end of July, he said. “The most important thing is to stop the denigration of our product.”
Asda has not attempted to justify the ‘nasty’ phrase on scientific grounds - given that the European Food Safety Authority recently conducted a review of the evidence and concluded that aspartame was safe for human consumption.
Asda declined to comment specifically on the case, but in a separate interview about its clean labelling policies, company nutritionist Vanessa Hattersley told Food Manufacture​: “We’ve never talked about safety with aspartame. If it’s got an E-number then it’s safe, but if the customer is unsure about something, and we can take it out, we will try and take it out. The term [‘nasty’] is not to be taken literally. It’s something that’s come up in consumer research. It’s their phrase really, not ours.”
In a writ filed in May, Ajinomoto said: “In their natural and ordinary meaning, the words on [Asda’s] packaging ... would have been understood to mean that aspartame is an especially harmful or unhealthy, or potentially harmful or unhealthy, sweetener and is one that consumers concerned for their own health would do well to avoid.”
At the beginning of 2008 Asda pledged to remove all artificial colours and sweeteners, flavour enhancers and hydrogenated vegetable oil from its 12,000-strong range of own-label products.
It said: “Artificial colours and sweeteners have been removed and in some cases replaced with natural colours, such as fruit and vegetable extracts, or with sucralose, a sweetener made from sugar.”

Related news

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more

Webinars

PRODUCTS & SERVICES