FDA rejects petitions to ban aspartame

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WScreen Shot 2014-01-23 at 1.20.11 PMhile we don t always agree with the FDA s actions, yesterday the agency resoundingly rejected two citizens petitions that asked the FDA to ban the use of aspartame as a food additive. Kudos to the FDA!

Aspartame is the poster child for unsubstantiated, inflated accusations of horrifying health effects particularly by one Betty Martini - founder of Mission Possible World Health International, an organization devoted to removing aspartame from food - who was one of the petitioners. For example, she claimed that methanol from aspartame causes organ and tissue damage, according to an article in the Food Navigator. In response, the FDA noted methanol in aspartame or in fruits and juices does not accumulate in the body and is easily metabolized.

On October 24, the agency denied the petition of Dr. K. Paul Stoller, saying that his citation of the 2006, 2007 and 2010 studies by the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) could not be evaluated since the ERF had not supplied the FDA with the data it had requested. Further, it noted that regulatory agencies of Canada, the UK, Australia, Europe, and Japan had all reviewed aspartame and support its safety for everyone except people with phenylketonuria. It concluded by stating Despite your many assertions, you have not identified any scientific data or other information that would cause the agency to alter its conclusions about the safety of aspartame.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava strongly concurs with the FDA s decision, saying Betty Martini has made a career out of disparaging aspartame with no science to back up her claims. Similarly, Dr. Stoller bases much of his claims on studies whose authors have refused to provide the agency with full data on their work. The FDA has reviewed nearly 200 studies, and they all support the safety of aspartame. She continued, People who use aspartame as a sugar substitute should be assured that, except for those with phenylketonuria, it is safe.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, who regularly debunks aspartame myths, recently took on one of the perennial (and always wrong) aspartame fear mongers in his Science 2.0 piece Crazy Joe Mercola Vs. Aspartame: Who Wins?

He adds, Aspartame has been on the market for 33 years. One would think that any real dangers would have been revealed long ago. Show me any evidence that we are any worse off than we were in 1981. Good luck, especially to Betty Martini, who apparently has had too many of them.

For more information about aspartame and other sweeteners, read ACSH s Sugar Substitutes and Your Health here.