EFSA statement on sweetener studies due this month

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Efsa Statistics Soft drink Childbirth

EFSA has said it will issue a scientific statement by the end of February on two recent studies that drew into question the safety of artificial sweeteners, but has indicated that while further analysis or research may be merited, the findings are not likely to affect recommendations.

The statements that are due follow a plenary meeting of EFSA scientists on the ANS panel held last week, where there was an initial discussion of the studies’ findings – as well as further scientific work that could be considered.

The two studies in question are a Ramazzini Institute study that looked at the potential carcinogenicity of aspartame in mice (Soffritti et al., 2010), and a study on the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened soft drinks and risk of preterm delivery in Danish pregnant women (Halldorsson et al., 2010).

For the former, EFSA said it is supporting the panel’s request for the complete data set from the Ramazzini authors. For now, however, it has said that the type and incidence of tumours reported “appear spontaneously at high rates in male mice.”

“The Panel also observed that the increased incidence of these tumours in mice exposed to aspartame through feed, whilst statistically significant, remained within the historical control range for these tumours in these mice,”​ says EFSA.

As for the Halldorsson study, EFSA has emphasized that the epidemiological design means it cannot, in and of itself, establish a cause and effect relationship between sweeteners and pre-term delivery risk.

“As indicated by the authors, further research (including experimental studies) would be required to confirm or reject these findings,”​ said EFSA.

“The Panel advised on the need for specialised expertise to provide additional insights on the methodology and statistical aspects of this study, including the implications of possible confounding factors.”

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