European version of FDA decides Aspartame is safe after all

[European Food Safety Agency press release]

“Aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure, EFSA concludes in its first full risk assessment of this sweetener. To carry out its risk assessment, EFSA has undertaken a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including both animal and human studies.”

17 responses to “European version of FDA decides Aspartame is safe after all

  1. Don’t think this will persuade the food nazis. They just “know” that aspertame is bad for you, because it’s “unnatural”. Nope, it’s green tea and water and that’s it.

  2. It still tastes awful. I find the EU-approved sweetener (whatever it is, can’t recall) a lot more palatable than Aspartame (at least when it is used in fruit preserves), but not nearly as good as sucrose or fructose.

    I hate to be throwing expensive food away just because I failed to read small print when I bought it. I feel cheated, especially when the label says “no sugar added”. In reality, it means “added a lot of disgusting stuff”.

    I’d be fine with “no sugar added” if it really meant “raw product without sugar” because I can always add sugar if I feel like it, but I do not understand why the fans of artificial sweeteners can’t be asked to do the same. We could then share the same food supply and not have to read small print.

    I don’t care what’s natural and what isn’t. Sugar tastes great; sweeteners are disgusting, and Aspartame is about the worst of them all.

    By the way, I did get headaches from diet coke when it was new and I was young and willing to experiment. So while it may be safe to consume, taste does not seem to be its only problem.

    • I agree with you Gene, sometimes what they add to replace sugar is worse than adding nothing at all. When it comes to food, I like Splenda (sucralose) a lot better than Nutrasweet (aspertame) or saccharine. However when it comes to soda pop, I prefer Nutrasweet to everything, including regular sugared soda.

      I started drinking diet sodas 30 years ago when saccharine was the only game in town. I suffered through, and learned to tolerate, the aftertaste. When Nutrasweet came out in the mid-80’s, it was a godsend for us diet soda drinkers. I got used to the aftertaste relatively quickly. After a few years of aspertame, I find that regular sodas are way too “syrupy” for lack of a better term term. It’s like drinking carbonated sno-cone syrup to me. I completely prefer the taste of diet pop to regular pop. Just as regular soda drinkers will often go without, rather than drink a diet, I’d rather go without rather than drink a regular soda, as odd as that may seem. I know others who have had the same experience.

  3. Been drinking diet coke and now coke zero for over 20 years… No problems yet and keeping weight down.

  4. Is shameless self-promotion OK here? Several months ago, I wrote a long, boring article about aspartame, and posted it at an online writers’ community.

    • The question is always framed wrong. It isn’t diet soda vs. green tea and water, as they always couch it. It’s diet soda vs. regular soda. No one disagrees that water is better for you than any soda. If nothing else, especially women, there’s the problem of carbonic acid leaching calcium in all sodas. The actual question regarding diet soda should be; Is diet soda less harmful to the average person than regular soda? So it’s a question of empty calories vs. some, not yet explained, health risk.

      I’ve fought weight problems all my life (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much). I have always drank a lot of pop. When I switched to diet soda in my early 20’s the pounds just fell off, that’s how much sugar I was taking in. I estimate at least 1000 calories a day from soda pop alone. In this day of the “obesity epidemic”, I think if you must drink pop, then the elimination of calories outweighs “potential” (yet still unsubstantiated) health risks. And believe me, the food nazis have been on the case since Nutrasweet boomed in the 1980’s. So even if something is found at this point, it’s going to be a minor statistical trend, not a poison.

      As far as the aspertame “tricking” your body, I personally have never experienced this. I’ve never noticed an increase in appetite after a soda. I will comment on craving, though. They always try to say that diet soda makes you crave more sweets. If I have a craving for sweets, the diet gurus say eat an apple. You know what? It’s probably not a physiological craving, more a mental craving. For which an apple won’t cut it. So I eat my apple and then eat a candy bar anyway to sate my craving. Unlike diet soda an apple has calories, So now you add 100 calories to the 350 you got from the candy bar.

      I think the whole diet soda makes you eat more is bunkum. Let’s face it, eating healthy food makes you want to eat more just as much, because you are always craving the junk stuff you really want to eat. In both cases it boils down to a matter of willpower. For most people with weight problems, eating isn’t a response to hunger, it’s a psychological thing, boredom, indulgement, etc. Weight maintenance is primarily a calorie equation. Eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. What type of food you eat and when you eat it has some effect, but quantity and calorie density are the biggest factors by far in weight gain.

    • The aspartame frenzy also includes the metabolism of methanol to formaldehyde, which, as we all know, does something to rats’ noses at >15ppmv, but not mice, so it must do something in trace quantities in Diet Coke.

      • I’ve also read that citrus fruits like oranges covert to formaldehyde in your body (at trance levels, like aspertame). Of course with fruit, they make acceptable exposure limits, unlike things they want to ban, like aspertame and second hand smoke.

  5. Soooo…. does this means the pretty girl that lived in our village, and drowned when we were testing her to see if she would float like a witch, was really just a pretty village girl?!?!?

    DAMN IT!

  6. i use real sugar, so i’m totally unconcerned with this #FirstWorldProblem


  7. I have to take exception to some of the comments. I have a proven reaction (by my standards) to aspartame and it’s not pretty. I never developed a taste for diet soda. On one occasion, at work doing an after working hours project, I inadvertently consumed a diet orange soda on an empty stomach and within a relatively short time experienced a migraine like headache, nausea, and finally the dry heaves. I would describe the event as the worst hangover of my life and I experienced some legendary events during my Fraternity days. Previously I had periodically, infrequently, experienced similar but much milder symptoms generally after fast food consumption or hitting into my wife’s frozen diet confectionaries. I hypothesized that the diet soda was the culprit but had no desire to test the hypothesis. On the next visit to my Internist I asked him if it was possible to be allergic to diet soda. He told me that there was some literature on aspartame suspected of causing grand mal seizures and that some airline regulations required flight crews not to consume diet soda four hours prior to departure. Finally on a weekend I experimented with 3 oz of diet orange soda on an empty stomach. Within 15-20 minutes I experienced a mild headache and queasiness. I terminated the experiment at that point. I avoid all soda dispensers in fast food chains and check all unfamiliar brand packaged foods ingredient listing for aspartame. I believe my limited experiment removes my experience from the anecdotal.

    • Sadly, my friend, despite the severity of your reaction, your report is still “anecdotal.” Scientific studies and surveys can only deal in generalized populations; they do not address any given individual. Likewise, an individual’s personal experience cannot scientifically be assumed to apply to any other individual, or to larger groups, without a large body of rigorous research with which to compare. Thus your report, however true, is still “anecdotal.”

      That said, I do allow that it is possible you have an allergy to aspartame. There are documented instances of such an allergy (though clinically substantiated cases are remarkably rare, some few are nonetheless quite real), just as there are instances of those who are allergic to any number of otherwise normally harmless foods. Such allergies (nuts, shellfish, even bee pollen in honey, etc.) can be not only acute and uncomfortable, but also very quickly lethal to those afflicted.

      But the fact these allergies exist does not change the fact that under normal circumstances such substances are safe for consumption by the general population. Since “allergic reactions” (to aspartame or anything else) by definition involve non-normal responses to a substance or stimuli, such reactions must be excluded from consideration as part of the normal human response.

  8. The danger with “syndromes” and reactions, is that non specific symptoms with multiple possible causes get put into a syndrome and tunnel vision sets in.

    migrain headache with nausea and vomiting are not “allergic” but autonomic vascular reactions, not mediated by histamine.

    The problems presented with trying to evaluate a reaction to a chemical are complicated by the established patters of “triggers” so the cause of a set of symptoms may or may not be toxic or some other kind of reaction.

    Sound like uncertainty to you? Certainly does to me, and toxicology requires the application of the Bradford Hill Rules or the equivalent.

    Some (like me) would say Koch’s postulates for establishing an agent that causes an infectious/invasive/parasitic disease were a predecessor to the Bradford Hill rules on tox that would cover the other agents that cause damage, injury or death. That is why anecdotes suggest systematic investigations.

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