aspartame_ by xiaopangnv


									                                                                                                                                                        FAcT sheeT
                                                                                                                                                             March 2009

Aspartame and cancer
Concern has been raised about the potential for
aspartame to cause cancer. At least five published
robust studies have examined this potential. All have
been reviewed by regulators around the world, and
all have concluded that aspartame demonstrates no
such potential.
People concerned about aspartame often cite the
findings of the European Ramazzini Foundation of
Oncology and Environmental Sciences (ERF) which
considered that its results indicate that aspartame is
linked to many different kinds of cancers. However,
regulatory authorities, including NZFSA and FSANZ,
are satisfied that the science shows that aspartame
does not cause cancer.
The European Food Safety Authority’s Scientific
Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing
Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (the AFC
Panel) have found flaws in the ERF study which
bring into question the validity of the findings.
As part of its review of the ERF studies, the AFC
Panel examined evaluations of aspartame by the
European Scientific Committee on Food and other
expert bodies which found no links to cancer; it                 
also considered an epidemiological study involving                New Zealand Food Safety Authority
over 100,000 people carried out by the US National                     86 Jervois Quay, PO Box 2835,
Cancer Institute in which no increase in brain or                         Wellington, New Zealand
blood related cancers was reported to be associated
with aspartame consumption; and it reviewed                                  Telephone 04 894 2500
comprehensive studies indicating that aspartame                              Facsimile 04 894 2501
does not affect DNA.                                               FOOD SAFETY CONCERNS 
On the basis of all the evidence, the AFC Panel                 0800 NZFSA1 (0800 693 721)
concluded that there is no reason to revise the
previously established ADI for aspartame of 40 mg/
kg bw. The Opinion of the AFC Panel was adopted
on 3 May 2006 and is available on                        Disclaimer The Panel monitors and               Every effort has been made to ensure information in this fact sheet is
                                                         accurate. NZFSA does not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever
evaluates new evidence as it comes to hand, and
                                                         for any error of fact, omission, interpretation or opinion that may be
publishes its findings on
                                                         present, however it may have occurred.                                       Te Pou Oranga Kai o Aotearoa
What is aspartame?                                           How much aspartame                                            How is aspartame  
Aspartame is a low calorie sweetener                         is too much?                                                  regulated in New Zealand?
                                                             The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) is the amount of an         In New Zealand, only those artificial sweeteners listed
that has been used as a safe alternative                     additive that someone could eat in the course of a day,       in the Joint Australia/New Zealand Food Standards
to sugar in a range of foods, including                      and every day for their whole lives, without showing          Code are permitted, and any listed have been assessed
carbonated soft drinks, yoghurt and                          any adverse health effects. The ADI for aspartame             for safety by Food Standards Australia New Zealand
                                                             was established at 40 milligrams per kilogram of body         (FSANZ). Aspartame is one of these. The Food Standards
confectionery for more than 25 years. It is                  weight (40 mg/kg bw) by the Joint Expert Committee on         Code also sets out which foods can have aspartame
at least 200 times sweeter than sugar.                       Food Additivies (JECFA). This is one of the highest ADIs      added to them.
                                                             established for any food additive. To exceed the ADI,
NZFSA, the New Zealand Ministry of Health and food                                                                         Permitted levels of sweeteners in foods are established
                                                             an adult weighing 70 kilograms would have to drink
safety authorities around the world believe that aspartame                                                                 only after taking into account how much is likely to be
                                                             between 15 and 20 cans of diet carbonated soft drinks
has a place in the diet of people who wish to reduce their                                                                 eaten and the acceptable dietary intake levels set by
                                                             per day, every day. As ADIs have wide safety margins built
intake of sugar – either because they are diabetic or are                                                                  the (JECFA), a panel of experts convened regularly by
                                                             into them, even at this level of intake you are unlikely to
concerned about their weight.                                                                                              the World Health Organization and the UN Food and
                                                             experience ill-effects due to aspartame. At this level of     Agricultural Organization. (For a full list of sweeteners,
                                                             consumption, however, you may suffer ill-effects caused by    see NZFSA’s fact sheet Intense Food Sweeteners).
What happens to                                              other ingredients in the drink.
aspartame in the body?                                                                                                     Is aspartame approved  
Aspartame consists of two amino acids (aspartic acid and     How do I know if a  
                                                                                                                           in other countries?
phenylalanine – found naturally in foods that contain        food contains aspartame?
protein such as meats, grains and dairy products). Amino                                                                   Yes, aspartame has been approved by all major food
                                                             Look for the additive numbers 951 or 962, or
acids are basic building blocks for proteins in the human                                                                  authorities around the world, including the European
                                                             aspartame listed in the ingredients on the label.
body. During the digestive process, aspartame is broken                                                                    Food Safety Authority, the United Kingdom Food
                                                             There is also a warning statement that the product
down into three products - aspartic acid, phenylalanine                                                                    Standards Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection
                                                             contains phenylalanine.
and methanol.                                                                                                              Agency, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the
                                                                                                                           United States Food and Drug Agency. These official
These products are absorbed, metabolised further and
                                                             Aspartame and phenylketonuria                                 government bodies are committed to protecting
excreted by normal body processes. Even with relatively
                                                             Some people have the rare inherited disease                   consumers in their countries and have found aspartame
high doses, the metabolites of this sweetener are not
                                                             phenylketonuria (PKU) and are advised not to consume          to be a safe product.
harmful. Methanol, while toxic at high doses, is produced
                                                             aspartame because they have limited ability to metabolise
in such small amounts from ingested aspartame that the
                                                             the amino acid phenylalanine, which could accumulate to
body easily handles it naturally without any problems, as
                                                             potentially harmful levels.
it does with the methanol resulting from the digestion of
fats, fruits and vegetables.                                 People with PKU need to follow a very strict diet to limit
                                                             their intake of phenylalanine, which is also found in all
                                                             proteins as well as aspartame.
                                                             All food products containing aspartame or its acesulphame
                                                             salt are required to state they contain phenylalanine.

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