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Food: Aspartame

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 7 April 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many aspartame-sensitive participants have been recruited to the current Food Standards Agency study of anecdotal complaints relating to aspartame; and when the study will be completed. [HL3027]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the scientific basis for the Food Standards Agency's funding for the ongoing study of anecdotal complaints relating to aspartame. [HL3028]

To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Food Standards Agency expects to report its interim findings from the study being conducted of anecdotal complaints relating to aspartame; and what progress is being made. [HL3029]

The study is not investigating anecdotal complaints relating to aspartame, but is aiming to collect validated information from individuals who believe aspartame adversely affects them. This information has not previously been systematically collected under trial conditions.

The basis for funding this study was the need to gather information on the adverse effects individuals relate to the consumption of aspartame in a safe and controlled environment. This will enable a robust analysis of this evidence, which is not possible to do with the unverified case report data available at present.

To date, 48 individuals who believe that they are sensitive to aspartame have volunteered to participate in the Food Standards Agency-funded study. An age and sex matched control is recruited for each aspartame-sensitive volunteer who takes part in the study.

The aspartame study is due to report early in 2011. This is reliant upon the volunteers attending the clinic and participating in the study. If those who have already volunteered do so it should be feasible to recruit the remaining participants and complete within this timeframe.

There will be no interim report of findings from this study. Due to the nature of the study, a double blind placebo controlled study, it is not possible to review the study outcomes until the target number of volunteers have participated in the trial, as this would result in the research team being aware of which product the participants are consuming (placebo or control) and may influence how they treat them.

As an evidence-based organisation we hope to increase our knowledge in this area and be in a better position to advise consumers.