The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is to move forward by several years a full review of the safety of aspartame following a request by the European Commission.
The Commission pressed EFSA to carry out a fresh risk assessment of the sweetener immediately in the wake of growing concern among MEPs and others about its effect on human health.
EFSA said it had not been planning to carry out a full review of aspartame until 2020, but will now do so over the coming 12 months. It has launched a public consultation that will run until 30 September 2011 and will report on its findings next year.
Announcing it would be bringing the review forward, EFSA said: “EFSA has provided advice to the European Commission on four occasions relating to the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame.
“Each time, the authority reconsidered the need to re-evaluate the work on aspartame previously conducted by the Scientific Committee on Food. Had any evidence been found that would have led EFSA’s expert panel to reconsider the safety of aspartame, a re-evaluation would have been immediately initiated.
“In May 2011, EFSA [was] asked by the Commission to bring forward the full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame to be delivered in 2012. Previously planned for completion in 2020, the review of this individual sweetener is part of the systematic re-evaluation of all authorized food additives in the European Union.
“EFSA has accepted the mandate for the aspartame re-evaluation, stipulating the need for a public call for new data as well as a thorough literature review.”
EFSA’s call for information can be found here.