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Health Canada Comments on the Recent Study Relating to the Safety of Aspartame

Health Canada scientists have reviewed the published data from a recent research study of aspartame. The European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Science published results of their study in the European Journal of Oncology in June, 2005 and in Environmental Health Perspectives on November 17, 2005.

Health Canada scientists concluded that the reported findings did not indicate a need to change the existing restrictions on use of aspartame already outlined in the Food and Drug Regulations. Health Canada also requested the complete set of raw data from the Foundation to permit a comprehensive analysis. These data were received on April 10, 2006, and are currently being analyzed.

In the meantime, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was requested by the European Commission to review the study. On May 5, 2006, EFSA released the report of its Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food. The Panel concluded "on the basis of all the evidence currently available, that there is no need to further review the safety of aspartame nor to revise the previously established Acceptable Daily Intake."

This conclusion supports Health Canada's initial assessment of this study. Nonetheless, Health Canada will continue with its comprehensive analysis of the raw data recently received.

Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener first approved for use in foods and as a table top sweetener in Canada in 1981. Health Canada scientists evaluated an extensive array of toxicological tests in laboratory animals, and more recently, a large number of clinical studies in humans. Aspartame is also currently permitted for use as a sweetener in food in many countries and its safety has been carefully examined by health authorities and international expert groups around the world.

The overwhelming body of scientific evidence continues to support the safety of this sweetener, when used according to the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations. However, as is the case whenever new information concerning the safety of a product arises, this new data will be carefully reviewed. Should any conclusive evidence be found linking the consumption of aspartame to adverse health effects, Health Canada will take appropriate action.

Bureau of Chemical Safety
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada

5 May 2006

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