IARC review of aspartame

ISA responds to IARC’s announcement to review aspartame in June 2023

Brussels, 07th June 2022: Following the decision of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to review the low/no calorie sweetener aspartame,1 the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) points to the scientific opinions of food safety authorities around the world that have repeatedly confirmed that aspartame is safe for use in food and beverages.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has carried out the most comprehensive risk assessment of aspartame ever undertaken. Based on the extensive scientific evaluation of all available data, EFSA ruled out any potential risk of causing cancer and reconfirmed that aspartame is safe. 2,3

EFSA’s conclusions are consistent with those of the food safety authorities that have reviewed and reaffirmed the safety of aspartame for use in food and beverages, including the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (JECFA)4, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and regulatory agencies in over 100 countries.

IARC’s announcement regarding their review of aspartame is not part of a safety evaluation in food and IARC is not a food safety body. As referenced by IARC in their announcement, within the same month and shortly after the IARC evaluation in June 2023, JECFA will update its scientific evaluation of aspartame. As stated by IARC, “The sequence of these evaluations and the close collaboration between the IARC Monographs and the WHO/FAO JECFA Secretariat will permit a comprehensive evaluation of the health effects of aspartame consumption based on the latest available evidence.”1

Importantly, at a time when obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes and oral diseases remain major global health challenges, low/no calorie sweeteners such as aspartame can be a helpful tool in reducing calorie and sugar intake, and thus body weight, while providing people with the desired sweet taste, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet. Furthermore, low/no calorie sweeteners can help manage blood glucose levels and contribute to the maintenance of tooth mineralisation.5