The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees with a World Health Organization finding that the widely used soda sweetener aspartame possibly causes cancer in humans, saying the studies used to reach that conclusion had “significant shortcomings.”
“Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives in the human food supply. FDA scientists do not have safety concerns when aspartame is used under the approved conditions,” an agency spokesperson said late Thursday shortly after the WHO released its findings.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a WHO body, found a possible link between aspartame and a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma after reviewing three large human studies in the U.S. and Europe.
Aspartame is used as a substitute for sugar in about 6,000 products worldwide, according to the Calorie Control Council, a trade group that represents the manufacturers of artificial sweeteners.
Artificially sweetened beverages have historically been the biggest source of exposure to aspartame. The sugar substitute is used in diet sodas such as Diet Coke and Pepsi Zero Sugar.
Aspartame is widely used because it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which means beverages containing the substitute taste similar to products with sugar, but have a lower calorie count.
Dr. Mary Schubauer-Berigan, a senior official at IARC, emphasized that the WHO classification of aspartame as a possible carcinogen is based on limited evidence.
Cnbc/July 14, 2023