The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public call for data on the artificial sweetener aspartame (E 951) for consideration in a full re-evaluation to be completed in 2012 as requested by the European Commission. Among data so far received are 112 original studies submitted to support the request for authorisation of aspartame in Europe in the early 1980s. The public call for data, which runs until 30 September 2011, was launched to ensure that EFSA’s first full risk assessment of the safety of aspartame 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 To complete its evaluation, EFSA is asking for all available scientific and technical data – published, unpublished and newly generated – related to aspartame in food and drinks and as a table-top sweetener.
EFSA has carried out a substantial body of work on aspartame over the years and has regularly reviewed new studies published on the substance. 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.
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. This network helps to disseminate news of the call and identify sources of data and scientific literature. EFSA’s partners can also provide advice and assistance to scientists, researchers and other interested parties to help them identify the data that could support EFSA’s forthcoming evaluation and its robustness.
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.