Expert Opinions - Aspartame

Scientists/Regulators/Health Groups Support Aspartame's Safety

The Food and Drug Administration and almost all scientists who are familiar with the data conclude that aspartame, and its use in a wide variety of products, is a safe and useful option for those individuals who prefer a low-calorie sweetener. Also, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union, regulatory agencies in more than 100 countries and a number of health groups have reviewed aspartame and found it safe for use. Public comments supporting the safety of aspartame include:

Health Groups

 

"Substituting non-nutritive sweeteners for sugars added to foods and beverages may help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight – as long as the substitution doesn’t lead to eating additional calories later as compensation. For people with diabetes, non-nutritive sweeteners used alone or in foods and beverages remain an option and when used appropriately can aid in glucose control."

— American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association, "Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives," 2012.

"A comprehensive review of the safety of aspartame has recently been published. The review covers previous publications as well as new information that support the safety of aspartame as a food additive..."

— American Dietetic Association, "Position of the American Dietetic Association: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners," 2004.

"Available evidence suggests that consumption of aspartame by normal humans is safe and is not associated with serious adverse health effects."

— American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs report, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 19, 1985

"[P]resent levels of aspartame consumption appear to be safe for those who do not have PKU. . . . The blood phenylalanine levels reported in response to loading doses of aspartame in normal adults and those heterozygous for the PKU gene do not seem to be sufficiently high to warrant concern of toxicity to the individual or even to a fetus during pregnancy."

— American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, Task Force on the Dietary Management of Metabolic Disorders, December 1985 Final Report

"The American Diabetes Association finds the use of the two commercially available non-caloric sweeteners saccharin and aspartame to be acceptable. The use of both sweeteners is encouraged for the particular advantages of each."

— Position statement of the American Diabetes Association, "Use of Noncaloric Sweeteners," 1990 (issued prior to the approval of acesulfame K)

"Evidence indicates that long-term consumption of aspartame is safe and is not associated with any adverse health effects."

— American Dietetic Association "Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners" position statement, July 1993

"Several years ago, experiments on rats suggested that saccharin might cause cancer. Since then, however, sudies of primates and humans have shown no increased risk of cancer from either saccharin or aspartame."

— American Cancer Society, 1996 Dietary Guidelines

"Aspartame is an FDA-approved, safe sweetening agent and flavor enhancer than can be substituted for sugar in the diet."

— American Dental Association "Statement on Aspartame," July 17, 1981

"The extensive evidence presently available indicates that aspartame is a safe food ingredient. ACSH believes that consumers need not be concerned about its use. Extensive scientific evidence, including an unusually large number of studies in human subjects, indicates that aspartame is a safe food additive. Although aspartame is now approved for a wide variety of uses, levels of consumption remain well within safe limits."

— American Council on Science and Health report, "Low-Calorie Sweeteners," March 1993

"As an organization devoted to people with seizure related problems, we [at] the Epilepsy Institute have evaluated the current scientific evidence and found aspartame to be safe for people with epilepsy. . . . the members of the Professional Advisory Board of the Epilepsy Institute looked at the seizure activity of our patients, many of whom consume aspartame regularly, and saw no change over the past three years."

— The Epilepsy Institute, published in the Congressional Record, June 20, 1986

Regulators

"...Before consideration was given to permitting aspartame for use in foods in Canada, officials of Health Canada evaluated an extensive array of toxicological tests in laboratory animals and, since its listing for use, they have examined the results of a number of clinical studies in humans. There is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of foods containing this sweetener, according to the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations and as part of a well-balanced diet, would pose a health hazard to consumers."

— Health Canada Report, February 2003

"The Committee concluded that on the basis of its review of all the data in animals and humans available to date, there is no evidence to suggest that there is a need to revise the outcome…” of the prior endorsement of aspartame's safety.

— Scientific Committee on Food, "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food: Update on the Safety of Aspartame," December 10, 2002

"In conclusion, AFSSA considers that the current state of scientific knowledge does not enable a relationship to be established between the exposition to the aspartame and brain tumors in humans or animals.

— French Food Safety Agency, May 2002

"We do not have any medical or scientific evidence that undermines our confidence in the safety of aspartame. This confidence is based on years of study, analysis of adverse reactions, and research in the scientific community, including studies supported by FDA."

— Frank Young, commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, in testimony before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, November 3, 1987

"The data and information supporting the safety of aspartame are extensive. It is likely that no food product has ever been so closely examined for safety. Moreover, the decisions of the agency to approve aspartame for its uses have been given the fullest airing that the legal process requires."

— John M. Taylor, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, Food and Drug Administration, in correspondence rejecting petitions seeking to ban aspartame as an"imminent hazard to public health" November 21, 1986

"Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated, close scrutiny, and the process through which aspartame has gone should provide the public with additional confidence of its safety."

— Former FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, commenting in his final decision to approve aspartame, July 24, 1981

"[O]bjections to aspartame's approval in carbonated beverages] were fully dealt with in the earlier proceeding leading to the approval of aspartame for dry uses."

— Food and Drug Administration in denying a request for a public hearing on aspartame, Federal Register, February 22, 1984

"FDA adequately followed its food additive approval process in approving aspartame. . . . Throughout aspartame's approval history, GAO found that FDA addressed safety issues raised internally and by outside scientists and concerned citizens."

— General Accounting Office report to Senator Howard Metzenbaum, "Food Additive Process Followed for Aspartame," June 18, 1987

"FDA properly denied a hearing after finding that petitioners have raised no material issue regarding the safety of the wet use of aspartame."

— United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, decision upholding FDA's denial of a request for a public hearing on aspartame, September 24, 1985

"It is most unlikely that aspartame would have any effects on humans that would not be seen with common foodstuffs."

— Committee of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, Department of Health and Social Security, United Kingdom, September 6, 1983

"The committee concerned has considered the available information on aspartame on a number of occasions, most recently in February of this year, and as a result aspartame has been given full clearance for use in food and drink. . . . I would like to reassure those of your readers who may have been concerned about the articles in the national press that this Department remains satisfied as to the safety of aspartame."

— Sir Henry Yellowlees, chief medical officer, United Kingdom Department of Health and Social Security, in a letter published in the British Medical Journal, September 24, 1983

"[T]he data provided no evidence that the occasional transient changes in blood amino acid levels, following simultaneous ingestion of aspartame and glucose, could produce changes in neurotransmitter levels which might affect mood or behaviour. . . . The Committee saw no reason for concern over the amounts of methanol likely to be produced by the metabolism of aspartame when compared with those present naturally in food. . . . Foetal effects from excessive material aspartame consumption by pregnant women heterozygous for PKU were not likely in view of the available data on phenylalanine levels in maternal blood."

— "Report of the Scientific Committee for Food on Sweeteners," European Economic Community, January 3, 1985

Scientists

"[T]he data [consumer complaints alleging adverse reactions caused by aspartame] do not provide evidence of the existence of serious, widespread, adverse health consequences attendant to the use of aspartame."

— Centers for Disease Control "Evaluation of Consumer Complaints Related to Aspartame Use," published November 2, 1984, in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

"In conclusion, based on our research, I concur with the findings of the FDA and regulatory authorities around the world that aspartame is safe at expected levels of consumption."

— Dr. Lewis Stegink, University of Iowa College of Medicine, in April 2, 1985, testimony before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee

"With the exception of individuals who have phenylketonuria (PKU) or are carriers of the disease, there is no credible or creditable evidence from human or animal experience at anything like a reasonable dose level to indicate a safety problem [with aspartame]."

— Dr. Arthur Raines, professor and acting chairman, Department of Pharmacology, Georgetown University, in a letter published in the Washington Post Health magazine, June 2, 1987

"In conjunction with previous studies demonstrating the safety of aspartame, this investigation confirms that aspartame is safe for use by persons with diabetes."

— Jeanine Nehrling, R.D., David Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D. et al, from their study, "Aspartame Use by Persons With Diabetes," published in the September/October 1985 Diabetes Care

"By conducting this study in a controlled hospital setting we were able to determine that aspartame was no more likely than placebo to cause allergic reactions in people allegedly sensitive to the product."

— Dr. Raif S. Geha, chief of the Division of Immunology at Children's Hospital in Boston and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, in a Children's Hospital press release on research abstracted in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, January 1992

"[Aspartame] consumed at daily doses equivalent to those contained in approximately 10L of aspartame-containing beverage is not associated with any significant changes in clinical measures or adverse experiences in healthy adults."

— Dr. A.S. Leon et al, from their study, "Safety of Long-term Large Doses of Aspartame," published in the October 1989 Archives of Internal Medicine

"[D]oses of aspartame commonly found in beverages do not negatively influence mood or well being."

— Dr. E.E.A. Pivonka et al, in their study, "Aspartame- or sugar-sweetened beverages: Effects on mood in young women," published in the February 1990 Journal of The American Dietetic Association

"[I]t is my opinion that this entire issue [aspartame's alleged effect on behavior] long ago transcended any scientific base that might ever have supported it. Enough is enough; it is time to move on. There are simply too many substantive issues that await investigation in the area of nutrition and brain function to waste further effort being obsessive about something that isn't really there."

— Dr. John D. Fernstrom, Department of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, in a letter published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 1987

 

“Aspartame is a well-characterized, thoroughly studied, high intensity sweetener that has a long history of safe use in the food supply and can help reduce the caloric content of a wide variety of foods.”
 
-  Dr. Bernadene Magnuson, from the expert panel review, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2007