EFSA confirms access to 1980s aspartame data as it calls for fresh science

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Treaty of lisbon

EFSA wants to see aspartame research
EFSA wants to see aspartame research
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed it has access to 112 studies about aspartame, most of which were conducted in the 1980s, which had been feared lost.

The agency referenced the studies in issuing a public call for aspartame (E951) data that runs until September 30, this year and which it said will be, “the most thorough and up-to-date yet.”

“To complete its evaluation, EFSA is asking for all available scientific and technical data – published, unpublished and newly generated – related to aspartame in food and drinks and as a table-top sweetener,”​ it said in a statement.

Some Members of the European Parliament had raised fears that some of the 1980s had been lost, or that EFSA did not have access to it.

Ajinomoto spokesperson Ailbhe Fallon welcomed the EFSA affirmation about the older studies.

“There had been MEPs saying the data had been misplaced so it is helpful to know that is not the case,” ​she said, while noting the call for data built on previous work from EFSA and other national agencies

“Only good can come from it,” ​she told FoodNavigator.com this morning. “It is a formal process and a textbook reevaluation that can only be good in terms of further establishing the scientific consensus about aspartame.”

Substantial body of work

EFSA acknowledged the call for data and aspartame reevaluation that was due for completion in 2012, was part of ongoing work dating back several years.

“EFSA has carried out a substantial body of work on aspartame over the years and has regularly reviewed new studies published on the substance,”​ it said.

“Had any evidence been found that would have led EFSA’s experts to reconsider the previous risk assessments by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and to review the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), then they would have done so.

EFSA has so far not carried out a full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame. In May 2011, EFSA accepted a request from the European Commission for the re-evaluation of the artificial sweetener in 2012.”

The agency added: “Due to EFSA’s scientific cooperation efforts, particularly with its partners in EU Member States, ongoing liaison with the European Commission, international partners and its stakeholder dialogue, EFSA can draw on a well-established network to ensure that all the relevant data are considered.”

“Following the public call for data, a document summarising the relevant data available will be prepared. These data will then be considered for the risk assessment.”

Aspartame is a low-calorie, intense sweetener, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar.

More information about the EFSA call for data can be found here.

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