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Felicity Lawrence, consumer affairs correspondent
Thursday December 15, 2005
A member of the parliamentary select committee on food and the environment yesterday called for emergency action to ban the artificial sweetener aspartame, used in 6,000 food, drink and medicinal products.
The Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams said in an adjournment debate in the Commons that there was "compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether". In licensing aspartame for use, regulators around the world had failed in their main task of protecting the public, he told MPs.
Mr Williams highlighted new concerns about the additive's safety, raised by a recent Italian study that linked it to cancer in rats. He said the history of aspartame's licensing put "regulators and politicians to shame", with the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary and former head of Searle, the company that discovered the sweetener, "calling in his markers" to get it approved.
Responding for the government, the public health minister, Caroline Flint, said a thorough independent review of safety data had been conducted as recently as 2001 and the Food Standards Agency advice remained the same: aspartame is safe for use in food. She said the government took food safety very seriously.
The European Food Safety Authority would be reviewing the Italian study as soon as it had full data on it, but an initial review by the UK's expert committee on toxicity had not been convinced by its authors' interpretation of their data. "I am advised that aspartame does not cause cancer," she said, adding that artificial sweeteners also help to control obesity.
This report became part of the Congressional Record in l985.. The reason aspartame is so dangerous is that it is a molecule composed of three components, all of which are neurotoxic: aspartic acid (40 percent), methanol (10 percent), and phenylalanine (50 percent). Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are neurotoxic as isolates, unaccompanied by other amino acids in food to block them from going directly into the brain. Methanol or wood alcohol is a severe metabolic poison. Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials states that methanol is "a human poison by ingestion." It's also classified as a narcotic. Aspartame breaks down to diketopiperazine, a brain-tumor agent. A confidential internal memo at Searle (the company that developed aspartame) indicated concern over lack of complete toxicological data on DKP.
FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt, M.D., approved aspartame only for dry foods on July 26, l974, and the following month consumer attorney James Turner and Washington University researcher Dr. John Olney filed objections to the FDA's approval, citing evidence of brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders in animal studies and concerns the substance may cause brain damage and mental retardation in humans. They also requested a hearing on the safety of aspartame.
On January 10, l977, in a 33-page letter, FDA Chief Counsel Richard Merrill recommended to US Attorney Sam Skinner that a grand jury investigate Searle for "apparent violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 331 (e), and the False Reports to the Government Act, l8 U.S.C. 355 (i) and for concealing material facts and making false statements in reports of animal studies conducted to establish the safety of aspartame." The FDA called special attention to studies investigating the effect of NutraSweet on monkeys and hamsters.
Actually, all companies are required, at least in America, to use a blend of different sweeteners, so you probably don't really get that much aspartame in your diet
they do this because aspartame is harmful
There is plenty of information all over showing you that if you guzzle aspartame, it is hazardous.
Actually, yeah, it is. I'm looking at a diet coke can right now that says it contains it. As does my coffee sweetener. And the fat free cookies in my cupboard. Wow, they hid it really well on that small print ingredients list. Damn them for typing it so small....
It ought to be banned, bsl4doc, because ignorant people consume these products with little or no understanding of the damage they're inflicting on future generations, and just "pass the buck.
Who are you to tell someone not to smoke? Why, someone who's obviously smarter because I'm sure you don't smoke also because you know it causes cancer. You choose not to say anything because you know they'll be an (Mod Edit) and get pissed at you instead of thank you for your concern while they still puff happily away choosing vice over health because the law allows it and these rich dudes make it.