EC calls for new aspartame action

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

EC calls for new aspartame action
The European Commission (EC) has asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to conduct a wholesale review of the safety of the world’s most widely used sweetener, aspartame.

Two recent scientific papers linked the high-intensity sweetener with an increased risk of cancer and pre-term births respectively, and an EFSA spokeswoman suggested to FoodManufacture.co.uk that “lots of attention”​ paid to aspartame over the past month had prompted the official request for a review.

“The re-evaluation was scheduled for 2020 ​[as EFSA had been looking at flavourings and colours]​but obviously it will be sooner now, and we’re looking to make a further announcement ​[on timings] at the beginning of next week,”​ she said.

She added that EFSA was examining the scientific work that needed to be done now, and would respond to the EC in the near future; she also emphasised that any review was likely to take time, “given that it’s not the sort of assessment you can conduct in a month”​.

MEPs recently voted for a mandatory label warning about the supposed risks of consuming aspartame during pregnancy during the second reading of the Food Information Regulation in April, and in March EFSA complained that the EU Parliament’s had reported “misinformation”​ in the outcomes of a hearing on aspartame.

The news follows Asda's recent decision to settle it's long-running legal dispute with aspartame supplier Ajinomoto​ out of court, after the latter took legal action against the retailer for describing aspartame as a ‘nasty’ on own-label product packaging.

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