The world’s most popular artificial sweetener may not be safe for consumption

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The hugely popular sweetener aspartame – also known as Nutrasweet – has been taken to task by researchers for not being sufficiently proven to be safe for consumption. Aspartame has been a controversial ingredient for decades.

According to a new study by Professor Erik Millstone, a University of Sussex expert on food chemical safety policy, and Dr. Elisabeth Dawson, the 2013 appraisal by the European Food Safety Authority that aspartame is safe is flawed. The study finds that the EFSA disregarded the results of every one of the 73 studies that indicated that aspartame could be deleterious to health while accepting as reliable 84% of studies that concluded that aspartame was safe.

“I have had about 250 people come to me saying they think aspartame caused a problem,” Millstone told the Daily Mail. “I would describe it as strong circumstantial evidence that they have had neurological symptoms and have eventually come to the conclusion aspartame was responsible.”

Not so sweet news

On the market in the U.S. since 1974, aspartame (or Nutrasweet as it is commonly known) has appeared in thousands of sugar-free products like diet sodas, table-top sweeteners, gum, etc.

“Our analysis of the evidence shows that, if the benchmarks the panel used to evaluate the results of reassuring studies had been consistently used to evaluate the results of studies that provided evidence that aspartame may be unsafe then they would have been obliged to conclude there was sufficient evidence to indicate aspartame is not acceptably safe,” said Professor Millstone, in a release.

Professor Millstone is asking that the authorization to sell or use aspartame in the European Union or the UK be suspended until all the evidence is re-examined under the proper procedure.