Aspartame: Safe, Sweet, No Calories

Aspartame is safe. That’s the conclusion of an exhaustive evidence review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Safe is a four-letter word that regulators are pretty shy about tossing around, so we’re taking this seriously.

The EFSA affirmed that an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for aspartame represents 16 cans of diet drinks per day. U.S. regulators will let you have 20.

Why is this even a question, let alone something that consumes the energy of an autoritative review panel? Catherine Collins, a UK dietitian, summed it up pretty well:

Aspartame has been the sweetener with the biggest conspiracy theory stories ever — ranging from behaviour issues in children to liver damage and cancer — all totally disproven, yet again, by this detailed scientific review.

Beverage companies, under pressure for selling so many liquid calories in sugar-sweetened beverages, are frustrated by these conspiracy theories. They stand in the way of selling more zero-calorie products. Folks who mistrust the industry keep promoting junk science to suggest a danger from artificial sweeteners that does not exist.

All of this reflects a serious issue for an industry that needs to move away from selling sugar water we don’t really need. No doubt, some good folks in the beverage industry want to repair the broken trust. We hope they will.

Click here to read more from Reuters and here to read more from the EFSA.

Vitamin DC, photograph © gfpeck / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.