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SGS Informs on New EFSA Assessment on Risks of Aspartame for Human Health

Aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure. This is the conclusion the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in its first full risk assessment of this sweetener (1). EFSA has undertaken a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including both animal and human studies.

Münich, Germany, January 31, 2014 --( What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is a low-calorie, intense artificial sweetener. It is a white, odorless powder, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame is a dipeptide of L-phenylalanine methyl ester and L-aspartic acid bearing an amino group at the α-position from the carbon of the peptide bond (α-aspartame). The major hydrolysis and degradation products of aspartame are L-phenylalanine, aspartic acid, methanol and 5-benzyl-3,6-dioxo-2-piperazine acetic acid (DKP). DKP is formed through the intramolecular reaction of the primary amine with the methyl ester group of aspartame. beta-aspartame is a non-sweet isomer of alpha-aspartame.

Aspartame as a Food Additive

Aspartame is authorized as a food additive in the European Union (EU). It was previously evaluated by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the EU Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) and the EFSA. Both JECFA and SCF established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg body weight (bw)/day. In Europe, aspartame is authorized to be used as a food additive in foodstuffs such as drinks, desserts, sweets, dairy products, chewing gums, energy-reducing and weight control products and as a table-top sweetener. In the European Union (EU) the label on foodstuffs containing aspartame must state its presence, indicating either its name or its E number (E 951).

Safety of Food Additives

The sweetener aspartame and its breakdown products have been a matter of extensive investigation for more than 30 years including experimental animal studies, clinical research, intake and epidemiological studies and post-marketing surveillance. It has been found to be safe and authorized for human consumption for many years and in many countries following thorough safety assessments. Since 2002, EFSA has kept the safety of aspartame under regular review and its Scientific Panels have issued several opinions on studies related to this sweetener. Currently, this work is carried out by the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS). Under the EU program for the re-evaluation by 2020 of all food additives authorized prior to 20 January 2009, EFSA was required to re-evaluate the safety of aspartame. This re-evaluation, originally scheduled to be finalized at the latest by 2020, was brought forward to 2013 following a request from the European Commission.

Experts of ANS Panel have considered all available information and, following a detailed analysis, have concluded that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40mg/kg bw/day is protective for the general population. However, in patients suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU), the ADI is not applicable, as they require strict adherence to a diet low in phenylalanine (an amino acid found in proteins).


(1) Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of aspartame (E 951) as a food additive (

(2) Food Additives (

About SGS Food Safety Services

SGS is committed to keeping readers informed of regulatory news and developments. Leveraging a global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions including analytical testing (, audits, certifications, inspections and technical support. SGS continually invests in world class testing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology to help you reduce risks, and improve food safety and quality.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact the SGS experts.

Contact details:

SGS Consumer Testing Services
Ron Wacker, PhD
Global Food Testing Business
Development Manager
SGS Germany

t: +49 40 301 012 65

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 75 000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1 500 offices and laboratories around the world.
Contact Information
Ron Wacker, PhD
+49 40 301 012 65
SGS Germany

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