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Aspartame - JEFCA and IARC assessments

Friday, 14 July 2023

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee for Food Additives (JECFA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have independently assessed the risks associated with aspartame and published a summary of their findings today, Friday 14 July 2023.

IARC has assessed the strength of evidence that aspartame could cause cancer in humans, while JECFA has assessed the risks to the public from the use of aspartame in food. The JECFA risk assessment includes a review of the acceptable daily intake  (ADI) and evaluation of the dietary exposure to aspartame from food.

Citing “limited evidence” for carcinogenicity in humans, IARC classified aspartame as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans (IARC Group 2B)’ and JECFA concluded that there was no convincing evidence from experimental animal or human data that aspartame has adverse effects after ingestion. This led to JECFA reaffirming its previous acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg body weight.

The sequence of these evaluations and the close collaboration between the IARC and the JECFA secretariats permitted a comprehensive evaluation of the health effects of aspartame consumption based on the latest available scientific evidence.

The findings of JECFA are in line with the conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) latest assessment on aspartame in 2013. Aspartame has also been evaluated by numerous scientific committees internationally over many years and has been found to be safe. It is authorised for human consumption in many countries following thorough safety assessments.

Prior to their authorisation at EU level, all additives must undergo a rigorous safety assessment, and this has been no different for aspartame which is considered safe at current permitted levels of use.  

Aspartame Q&A