EFSA publishes original industry studies on aspartame

Press Release
24 November 2011

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been given access to over 600 datasets for use in its full re-evaluation of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is scheduled for completion in September 2012. Reaffirming its commitment to openness and transparency, EFSA has published the full list of studies that have been made available to EFSA. The Authority has also made publicly available previously unpublished scientific data including the 112 original studies on aspartame which were submitted to support the request for authorisation of aspartame in Europe in the early 1980s.

Following a public call for scientific data on aspartame, which closed on 30 September 2011, EFSA received access to a large number of both published and unpublished scientific studies and datasets. EFSA is currently processing the submissions for consideration in its risk assessment of aspartame as used in food, beverages and as a tabletop sweetener.

In addition to the information and raw data made publicly available today on EFSA’s website, further unpublished scientific studies and data are expected to be made available for download once the Authority has received them in full and had confirmation of their non-confidentiality.

To date, EFSA has not carried out a full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame. However, the Authority has undertaken a substantial body of work on aspartame over the years and has regularly reviewed new studies published on the substance. In May 2011, EFSA accepted a request from the European Commission to bring forward from 2020 to September 2012 the deadline for the scheduled full re-evaluation of this artificial sweetener. After its completion in 2012, EFSA’s risk assessment of aspartame will be the most comprehensive and up-to-date available.

Recognising the level of interest in this work, EFSA will keep the public informed of progress made at key intervals in the risk assessment process.


Background
Aspartame is a low-calorie, intense sweetener. It is used in a number of foodstuffs such as drinks, desserts, sweets, dairy, chewing gums, energy-reducing and weight control products and as a table-top sweetener throughout the world. During the 1980s, aspartame was authorised for use in foods and as a table-top sweetener by several EU Member States. European legislation harmonising its use in foodstuffs was introduced in 1994 following safety evaluations by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1984 and 1988.

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