Undeclared aspartame danger: Irn Bru maker strips product off shelves

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Aspartame in one batch of Barr Lemonade was not listed on labeling as an ingredient (Picture Credit: UK Food Standards Agency)
Aspartame in one batch of Barr Lemonade was not listed on labeling as an ingredient (Picture Credit: UK Food Standards Agency)
Irn Bru maker AG Barr is blaming a labeling error after it withdrew a batch of Barr lemonade containing undeclared aspartame that could be dangerous for anyone with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced today that Barr had withdrawn a 500ml batch of the lemonade due to the presence of aspartame (an artificial sweetener used in low calorie drinks).

“This is a potential safety issue for anyone with phenylketonuria (PKU) who are recommended not to consume aspartame-containing products,”​ the FSA said in a statement.

An FSA spokeswoman told that this type of labeling error "rarely occurs"​, and said brands were obliged by law (Annex I of Commission Directive 2008/5/EC) to signal the presence of aspartame with the statement "contains a source of phenylalanine"​.

Sufferers from rare inherited disease phenylketonuria (PKU) are unable to metabolise amino acid phenylalanine effectively, leading to its accumulation in potentially harmful levels.

PKU can cause serious brain damage

PKU affects 1 in 10000 people, and if left untreated can cause serious brain damage; sufferers must folllow a strict diet to limit phenylalanine intake, and must avoid aspartame, the presence of which must be clearly labeled by law.

An AG Barr spokesperson told that it had withdrawn batch 3083 of Barr Lemonade due to a "labeling error"​, where the batch affected has a best before end date of December 2013. 

“Following a recent recipe change, the product should have been manufactured with updated labels that include aspartame as an ingredient.  Aspartame is not listed on the label of this single batch,"​ the spokesperson said.

They added: “The company takes this matter seriously and all steps have been taken to remove the incorrectly labelled bottles from the distribution chain promptly and efficiently. All other batches are unaffected and are correctly labelled.​"

'We acted quickly to address situation': AG Barr

The spokesperson said that AG Barr did not expect the majority of its customers to be affected in any way, and had acted quickly to address the situation and ensure only correctly labelled products were on the market.

According to the FSA website​, products containing sweeteners such as aspartame must show the statement 'with sweetener(s)' or 'with sugar and sweetener(s)' on the label close to the main product name.

"In addition, foods that contain aspartame must be labeled with a warning 'contains a source of phenylalanine'"​, the agency said, specifically to aid sufferers from PKU to avoid such foods.



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1 comment

Aspartame A Danger To Many - Not Just PKU Individuals

Posted by Honorable Mary Nash Stoddard,

PKU is a "condition," not a disease. With proper diet, PKU individuals live happy, healthy lives. There are also 20-Million Carriers of the PKU gene who are not aware. They are also at risk from #Aspartame in their diets. Thank you for publishing this very informative article. -- Hon. Mary Nash Stoddard/author Toxicology Sourcebook: Deadly Deception Story of Aspartame

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