Background and Composition
Aspartame is a leading low calorie sweetener that has been used around the world for decades.
It is a simple ingredient made of components found in everyday foods, and the body digests it in
exactly the same way as those everyday foods. Aspartame brings nothing new to the diet that is not already
present in milk, fruits, vegetables and meats in much higher quantities. Its composition and digestion
have long been well understood, and it is the only high intensity sweetener that is broken down by the
body through normal metabolism. After ingestion, it is broken down to two amino acids, aspartic acid and
phenylalanine, and a small amount of methanol. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Charts illustrating aspartames components relative to the composition of common foods are below.
|Approximate Amino Acid Content of Various Foods|
|Aspartic acid (mg)||Phenylalanine (mg)|
|Aspartame-sweetened soft |
drink (12 ounces)
|Skim milk (12 ounces)|| 948 ||598|
|Chicken (approx 4 oz.)|| 2570 ||1130|
|Approximate Methanol from Various Foods (mg/12 ounces)|
||Red grape juice
Aspartame enjoys a high level of confidence among health professionals, the scientific community and regulatory authorities. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies in respected publications confirm that confidence.
The numerous studies done with aspartame have been reviewed by regulatory scientists
around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Joint FAO/World
Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, and the Scientific Committee on
Food of the European Union (in 1985 and again in 2002). In each case aspartame was
determined to be safe for human consumption. Available for almost 25 years, aspartame is now
approved for use by the general population in 130 countries around the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration assigns an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for ingredients,
which is the amount that would lead to no adverse effects to health if consumed on a
daily basis over a persons lifetime. The ADI for aspartame is at least several times higher
than any of the other high intensity sweeteners on the market. Current consumption of aspartame
in the United States is only a small percentage of the ADI (5-10%), even among those
who are the heaviest users.
Recent New Mexico Petition
Recent efforts by a group in New Mexico to label aspartame a neurotoxin and ban its
sale in the state are in total conflict with the wide body of credible studies that
have been thoroughly reviewed by regulatory authorities around the world. There is absolutely no
basis in the peer-reviewed medical literature that aspartame has any negative properties. In stark contrast
to assertions made by this group, more than 200 scientific studies confirm aspartames safety.
Individuals can safely use aspartame as part of a nutritious diet to manage their
weight, diabetes, dental health, and other medical conditions or health concerns. This is a position
maintained by regulatory and health professional organizations worldwide, including the American Dietetic
Association. It is unfortunate, ironic and irresponsible that the allegations made in New Mexico
could raise consumer concern about a low calorie sweetener that provides value in helping fight so
many critical health problems.
We join the more than 130 regulatory authorities around the world in our confidence in aspartame, said Robert G. Bursey, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Ajinomoto USA. Consumers can be assured of its safety and value as a good-tasting tool for helping manage the very real challenge of obesity.
www.eatrightnm.org (New Mexico Dietetic Association)
Ajinomoto Food Ingredients, LLC is headquartered in Chicago, IL. The company manufactures food products and ingredients, including seasonings, edible oils, and processed foods and beverages. Ajinomoto is a world leader in amino-acid technologies and the global leader in aspartame production.
7 October 2005