What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that provides sweetness to foods and beverages without adding significant calories. Aspartame consists of two amino acids (the building blocks of protein) – phenylalanine and aspartic acid. These components (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) are naturally occurring in common foods, such as meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables.

Why is Aspartame used?

Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so very small amounts of aspartame are needed to provide the same sweet taste without the calories of sugar. Aspartame is available as a tabletop sweetener and in many products, including a variety of beverages, dairy products, canned fruits, desserts, confections, sauces and dressings.

Is Aspartame safe?

Aspartame has been studied extensively and has been found to be safe by scientific experts and researchers. Government agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA), the World Health Organization, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have reviewed the science and found aspartame to be safe for human consumption.

People with a rare hereditary condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid that is found in aspartame, as well as meat, beans, and many other foods. Individuals with PKU should avoid foods containing phenylalanine, including aspartame. Foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame carry a statement on the label to alert people who have PKU to the presence of phenylalanine.

What confectionery products contain Aspartame?

Small amounts of aspartame may be used in sugar-free confections such as gum, mints, and some hard candies and chewy candies.

Sources:

Calorie Control Council (www.aspartame.org)
International Food Information Council Foundation (
www.foodinsight.org)
Mayo Clinic (
www.mayoclinic.org)