Uncontested Facts about Aspartame
- Aspartame is a methyl ester of a dipeptide, used as an artificial sweetener in a variety of food products
- Aspartame is the active ingredient in over 6000 products, including brands like Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, consumer by more than 2 million people worldwide
- Aspartame was first synthesized in 1965 by accident, by a researcher at G.D Searle and Company, while trying to create a peptic ulcer drug
- In 1973, Searle applied to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to market aspartame as a food additive.
- In 1981, aspartame was given FDA approval as a food additive (but not for soft drink) on the decision of FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes Jr, who used his authority to over-rule a public board of enquiry which had previously refused approval
- Searle was bought by Monsanto in 1985, which formed the Nutrasweet Company to market aspartame. In 2000, Nutrasweet was sold to J.W. Childs Equity Partner II L.P.
Claims and Counterclaims about Aspartame
Health and Safety
1.Aspartame is harmful to consumers
2007: Michael F. Jacobson (Center for Science in the Public Interest), 'New Aspartame Safety Review "Perfectly Predictable"'
1. Aspartame has been thoroughly tested and no credible evidence has been found of negative health effects
2007: Magnuson e tal (Burdock Group), 'Aspartame: a safety evaluation based on current use levels, regulations, and toxicological and epidemiological studies.'
2. Aspartame has been shown to cause cancer in rats
2 The study alleging that aspartame causes cancer in rats is flawed and its conclusions unreliable
2006: European Food Safety Authority, 'Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in contact with Food (AFC) on a request from the Commission related to a new long-term carcinogenicity study on aspartame'
|3. Aspartame is produced using genetically engineered E.Coli bacteria, increasing its riskiness||3. Genetically engineered E.Coli is no riskier than conventional bacteria.|
4. Aspartame causes blood cancers
|4. The study by Schernhammer et al concludes that results varied between men and women, and the results "do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation"|
|5. Sugar substitues like aspartame can confuse the body, which responds to sweet flavours by expecting an energy kick, and secreting insulin, which can result in great appetite and weight gain||5. There is no solid evidence of a causal relationship between any body confusion relating to sugar substitutes and weight gain|
6. Aspartame is an exitotoxin
6a. Some studies purporting to show that other exitotoxins are not harmful have used aspartame as the placebo, thus invalidating the results
6. Aspartame is not an exitotoxin
6a. The invalidation of some studies is not evidence of anything in particular.
Regulation and Conflicts of Interest
|1. In 1977, former Secretary of Defence (Ford Administration) Donald Rumsfeld was hired as CEO of Searle Laboratories, manufacturer of aspartame, in the hopes his Washington connections could help get aspartame approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.||1. Searle's decision to hire Donald Rumsfeld as CEO had no connection with aspartame.|
|2. Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981.||2. Aspartame was initially approved by the FDA in 1974, one year after Searle applied, but this approval was blocked by various scientific controversies.|
3. When Rumsfeld became part of Regan's administration in 1981, he hired Arthur Hull Hayes
Jr. as Commissioner of the FDA. After Hayes approved Aspartame in 1981, he left the FDA in 1983 to become senior scientific consultant to PR firm Burson-Marsteller, who did work for Searle.
|3. Hayes decision to approve aspartame was based on good science. There's no evidence that Hayes appointment had anything to do with Rumsfeld, or that he worked for Burson-Marsteller after leaving the FDA.|
Points of Interest
- One source of claims that aspartame is harmful is the Aspartame Toxicity Info Center
- One source of claims for aspartame being safe is this article on Snopes
- Another source of claims that aspartame is harmful is Aspartame's Sweet Dreams on thePanelist.net
- There's a lengthy article on aspartame on Sourcewatch.org
- Various claims about the history of aspartame can be found on the timeline on Rense.com, and an article by Robbie Gennet in the Huffington Post