James Schlatter, a medical researcher working at G D Searle & Company, discovered the sweetness of aspartame in 1965. Jim was developing a treatment for ulcers when he licked his finger to turn a page of his notebook and noticed an unexpectedly sweet taste. He had the presence of mind to trace the sweetness back to a simple molecule of two amino acids.
Since that time, aspartame has become one of the most highly valued and widely used sweeteners in the world. Aspartame tastes exactly like sugar, and because it is made from two amino acids, is digested naturally.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of aspartame in dry products in 1981 and in carbonated soft drinks in 1983. In 1996, the FDA approved aspartame as a general purpose sweetener, allowing it to be used as a sweetening ingredient in all foods and beverages.
The approval given in 1996 underlined the confidence of the FDA in the safety and value of aspartame. It marked the 26th occasion in a period of 23 years that the FDA had affirmed the safety of aspartame.
Today, products with aspartame are enjoyed regularly by billions of people around the world. Aspartame is used as a sweetening ingredient in products such as soft drinks, tabletop sweeteners, yoghurt, ice cream, puddings, frostings, frozen desserts, chewing gum, breath mints, vitamins and pharmaceuticals.
Aspartame has also been reviewed and found to be safe for the general population by the Council of Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association, by experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and by the regulatory agencies of more that 100 nations.