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‘No need for action on aspartame’ says expert review

Experts who have reviewed a study of aspartame have concluded that ‘the results did not indicate any need for action to protect the health of the public’.

The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer products and the Environment (COT) peer reviewed a double blind randomised crossover study of aspartame, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

COT is a committee of independent experts that provides advice to the FSA and other parts of government.

The full minutes of the COT discussion have not yet been published, as a report of the study has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The study was led by Hull York Medical School and aimed to record any effects from eating a snack bar that may or may not have contained aspartame. The study recruited individuals who reported reactions after consuming aspartame, alongside a matched control group of individuals who normally consume foods containing aspartame without problems.

The work took the form of a double blind randomised crossover study, the gold standard of scientific research. This type of study is designed to test the effect of a substance in such a way that neither the research team nor the participants know whether the bar consumed contains the test substance or not. Double blind studies therefore eliminate the risk of prejudgement by participants or researchers which could distort the results.

Aspartame is an intense sweetener, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar, which has been used in soft drinks and other low calorie or sugar free foods throughout the world for more than 25 years.

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