EU Food Watchdog Whitewashing Aspartame: Cancers Not Due To Sweetener

EU Food Watchdog Whitewashing Aspartame: Cancers Not Due To Sweetener

Rome, 5 May 2006 – The European Food Safety Authority today has performed its ritual to whitewash aspartame, an artificial sweetener made of two amino acids and methanol. In a well organized press conference in Rome, attended by an international group of health journalists and streamed live on the internet, the food watchdog explained its reasons for disregarding the study published last year by the prestigious Ramazzini Institute.

Dr Iona Pratt, the head of the working group that examined the study, acknowledged the serious nature of the Institute’s work but explained that the tumors researchers found in the rats may well have been "due to other reasons" than aspartame intake.

Dr Pratt also made reference to other, previous studies, that had found no cancer risk, to sustain the panel’s view. A special mention went to a recent "large study of over 500.000 people in the US" that found no aspartame-cancer link. Perhaps she should have added that this study was a diet assessment, not designed to evaluate the effects of aspartame, and in contrast to the "life time" study of the Ramazzini institute it assessed only one year’s worth of diet with no specific questions relating to aspartame intake.

In what seems to amount to a leap of faith, the panel recommended not only to leave aspartame well alone because "it does not cause cancer", but also stated in its recommendations that there is no reason to look further. This is somewhat akin to the US Department of Agriculture’s refusal to allow testing for mad cow disease – bury your head in the sand and the danger will go away. After some time, Jane and Joe public will have forgotten…

The recommendation to not look further into aspartame safety drew some questions from the journalists present. In response, the huge amount of data from consumers, collected by the FDA, was cited as proof for the sweetener’s safety. But when pressed as to why not look, Sue Barlow, the Chair of the the EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings said it would be hard to collect data from consumers and expect an evaluation of those data not to be biased.

It would seem that as long as consumers say that aspartame is great, that would be just fine, but when they start to complain, that shows bias.


Sepp Hasslberger
Friday May 5 2006
Published in: on May 5, 2006 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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