Bittersweet aspartame

Friday, 02 August, 2019

Bittersweet aspartame

A paper published by University of Sussex researchers has revealed that Nutrasweet has not been adequately proven to be safe for human consumption, with serious flaws uncovered in the 2013 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel regarding the safety of aspartame.

Erik Millstone and Dr Elisabeth Dawson have detailed the serious flaws in the 2013 study regarding the safety of aspartame, more commonly known as Nutrasweet. The new study by Millstone and Dawson reveals the EFSA panel discounted the results of 73 studies that indicated that aspartame could be harmful while treating 84% of studies providing no prima facie evidence of harm as reliable.

Since 1974, scientists have warned of the risks of brain damage, brain lesions, neuroendocrine disorders, and liver and lung cancer from consuming Nutrasweet, which is found in thousands of products including diet soft drinks. The global health advice is to reduce sugar intake, yet the food industry — especially soft drinks — maintains the sweetness by substituting artificial sweeteners.

Professor Millstone is calling for the suspension of authorisation to sell or use aspartame in the EU pending an independent re-examination of documents that were omitted from the dossier the panel reviewed. He is also encouraging a radical overhaul of EU food safety processes, including an end to behind-closed-door discussions.

“In my opinion, based on this research, the question of whether commercial conflicts of interest may have affected the panel’s report can never be adequately ruled out because all meetings took place behind closed doors,” Professor Millstone said.

The University of Sussex research highlighted the many inadequacies of the EFSA panel, including breaching EFSA guidelines on risk assessment transparency on multiple grounds, adopting low hurdles for the acceptability of negative studies and high hurdles for ‘positive’ studies indicating adverse effects. The panel demonstrated puzzling anomalies including inconsistent and unacknowledged assumptions. The 2013 EFSA panel also failed to acknowledge the many inadequacies in the reassuring studies but instead highlighted the tiny imperfections in all the studies indicating the risks of aspartame.

Image credit: © Wave

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