In May 2011, EFSA was asked by the European Commission to bring forward the full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame (E 951) to 2012. Previously planned for completion by 2020, the review of this sweetener is part of the systematic re-evaluation of all food additives authorised in the EU prior to 20 January 2009, as anticipated under Regulation EU 257/2010.
EFSA accepted this mandate and launched a public call for scientific data as well as a thorough literature review, enabling the Authority’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) to start its risk assessment in early 2012.
In the course of its scientific deliberations, the Panel found that there were too little data available on 5-benzyl-3,6-dioxo-2-piperazine acetic acid (DKP) and other potential degradation products that can be formed from aspartame in food and beverages when stored under certain conditions. EFSA is therefore launching an additional call for data on DKP and other degradation products of aspartame.
To consider these additional data, coupled with a willingness to publicly consult on its draft opinion, means that EFSA’s ANS Panel will not finalise this work by end September 2012, as previously communicated.
EFSA is currently discussing with the European Commission the deadline for the final opinion and will continue to provide updates on the status of its work on aspartame.