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European Commission asks EFSA to see whether aspartame is safe for use


27 May 2011


Health & Consumers

Results of a study on 60,000 pregnant women carried out by Danish researcher Thorhallur Halldorsson earlier this year demonstrated that there is a link between pregnant women drinking fizzy drinks using the artificial sweetener aspartame and the incidence of premature childbirth. New evidence that aspartame increases the risk of cancer was also revealed by Italian oncologist Morando Soffritti, who signalled an increased risk of liver and lung cancer in mice exposed to the chemical sweetener throughout their lives.

Several MEPs questioned the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in February this year when the research results were revealed. However, the European Commission and EFSA saw no reason to reassess the product's safety then.

 "Fortunately, it seems that they have changed their mind," said Kartika Liotard (GUE/NGL) who has been calling into question the safety of this sweetener since 2005. "The European Commission has been turning its back on the precautionary principle for many years now. Aspartame is present in many processed foods: yoghurt, soft drinks, chewing gum - you can hardly get away from it. Even the smallest clue that aspartame could cause cancer or miscarriages should be a reason for an assessment to be seriously considered," said Liotard.

 The GUE/NGL considers it outrageous that so much political pressure is required before EFSA and the European Commission decide to move. "The Authority just ignored the findings of the investigations in February saying they were 'unreliable'", said MEP Liotard. "That amounts to playing with public health. Now, they have finally succumbed after years of pressure from the European Parliament. This indicates that EFSA and Commission's data on the safety of aspartame is not 100% certain," said Kartika Liotard.

EFSA should present its review of aspartame by July 2012. This should show whether or not the sweetener is considered safe to use in future. 


GUE/NGL Press Contacts:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20 - David Lundy +32 485 50 58 12


European United Left / Nordic Green Left

European Parliamentary Group