An MEP has questioned the validity of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) review of aspartame following what she claims was support from the agency’s scientists for a statement backing the safety of the sweetener.
Dutch lawmaker Kartika Liotard, in an email to this publication, said EFSA scientists Vittorio Silano and John Christian Larsen supported the findings of last week’s conference - No-Calorie Intense Sweeteners - Focus on Safety of Use - which held that there are no health risks in relation to aspartame use in food and beverages and that all low and no-calorie sweeteners currently on the market are safe.
The event was organised by the Nutrition Foundation of Italy and the Italian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition on 11 January.
Liotard said: “The EFSA apartame re-evaluation will not be ready before September 2012. It is questionable if this review is still an independent and unprejudiced one, after this statement.”
The MEP said she is tabling a series of questions to the European Commission in relation to the EFSA review of aspartame, asking it to respond on whether it still believes that the re-evaluation of the sweetener is a “reliable and unbiased one.”
But EFSA told FoodNavigator.com that it “wishes to clarify a number of misleading statements following recent media coverage of the Italian conference."
A spokesperson for the agency stressed that Professor Silano and Professor John Larsen (former chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food – ANS) were invited to the conference as “independent experts”.
The spokesperson added: “Professor Vittorio Silano, chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee, reaffirms any definitive statement on the safety of aspartame at this time is premature pending EFSA’s full re-evaluation."
“EFSA has carried out a substantial body of work on aspartame over the years, reviewing studies on aspartame (and other sweeteners) published since the evaluations of the former Scientific Committee on Food. EFSA has kept the public regularly updated on its work on aspartame with all related information available on its website,” said the representative.