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NewsBites March 2015 Issue

FDA Rejects Aspartame-Ban Petitions

Despite a drumbeat of bad press for aspartame, the US Food and Drug Administration says there’s “no new credible scientific evidence” to change the agency’s position that the zero-calorie sweetener is safe for the general population. The FDA recently rejected two citizen petitions calling for an aspartame ban. The agency noted it had analyzed 195 reports of supposed aspartame-related side effects over a 10-year span and did not identify “any causal link between aspartame consumption and the reported adverse events” or “an established mechanism that would explain how aspartame is associated with the reported adverse events.”

Shortly after the FDA response to the petitions, in fact, the Journal of Nutrition published a study by American Cancer Society researchers that again found no link between intake of diet sodas (most commonly sweetened by aspartame) and increased cancer risk. The study focused on risk of lymphoid neoplasms, such as in lymphoma and leukemia, in older men and women.

Nonetheless, aspartame continues to be battered in consumer—and thus industry—perception. General Mills recently replaced aspartame in its Yoplait Light yogurt. Whole Foods includes the sweetener on its list of “unacceptable ingredients” and several soda makers have introduced diet drinks sweetened with stevia, promoted as more “natural.”

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