Aspartame study findings published by the Hull York Medical School

The Food Standards Agency is today publishing the findings of a study carried out by Hull York Medical School, determining reactions to aspartame in people who have reported symptoms in the past compared to people with no reported symptoms. The study is also being published in the peer reviewed, open access journal, PLOS ONE.

The study concluded that the participants who were self-diagnosed as sensitive to aspartame showed no difference in their response after consuming a cereal bar, whether it contained aspartame or not. The study looked at various factors including psychological testing, clinical observations, clinical biochemistry and also metabolomics (which is the scientific study of small molecules generated by the process of metabolism).

The Hull/York paper was peer reviewed by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) in December 2013. COT concluded that ‘the results presented did not indicate any need for action to protect the health of the public’.

Guy Poppy, FSA Chief Scientific Advisor, said: ‘While the best available evidence shows that aspartame can be consumed safely, a number of individuals have reported adverse reactions after consuming food and drink containing aspartame. Given this anecdotal evidence it was appropriate to see if more could be found out about these reported effects. The Hull/York study was not designed to evaluate the overall safety of aspartame as it is already an approved additive.”

The study recruited individuals who reported reactions after consuming aspartame, alongside a matched control group of individuals who normally consume foods containing aspartame without problems. The aspartame was given in a cereal bar so that individuals could not distinguish between bars containing aspartame and the control bars.

The work took the form of a double blind randomised crossover study, the gold standard of scientific research. This type of study is designed to test the effect of a substance in such a way that neither the research team nor the participants know whether the bar consumed contains the test substance or not. Double blind studies therefore eliminate the risk of prejudgment by participants or researchers which could distort the results.

In December 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion on aspartame following a full risk assessment after undertaking a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including both animal and human studies. The EFSA opinion concluded that ‘aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure’.

The FSA will share the results of this study with EFSA.

(Source: FSA website)

Food recalls in EU – Week 31 – 2014

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have six recalls from consumers in EU in the alert notifications:

– Allergens: undeclared wheat in liquorice, following a consumer complaint. Origin Spain, relabelled in Denmark, notified by Denmark and distributed also to Germany;

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in dry sausages, following a consumer complaint. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Slovenia;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in chilled smoked trout, following company’s own check. Origin Spain, notified by France;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in gorgonzola, following company’s own check. Origin Italy, notified by  France, distributed also to Denmark and Germany;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: shigatoxin-producing Escherichia Coli in cow’s milk cheese made with raw milk, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom;

– Pesticide residues: dimethoate in fresh green celery, following an official control on the market. Origin Belgium, notified by Belgium, distributed also to Luxembourg and France.

Between the information for attention notifications, followed by a recall from consumers, we find:

– Food additives and flavourings: too high content of  E210 – benzoic acid in soft drink, following an official control on the market. Origin Vietnam, notified by Denmark;

– Pesticide residues: carbendazim in courgettes, following an official control on the market. Origin Jordan, notified by Denmark.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Composition: unauthorised substance progesterone in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Czech Republic, notified by Czech Republic, distributed also to Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Slovakia and Slovenia;

– Composition: unauthorised ingredient (androgenic anabolic steroid) in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Bulgaria, notified by Czech Republic;

– Industrial contaminants: benzo(a)pyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in cocoa bean powder, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Slovakia;

– Mycotoxins: Ochratoxin A in organic bread, following company’s own check. Origin Germany, notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria, France, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. in Asian assortment, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by Belgium, distributed also to Luxembourg;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella in madras curry powder, following company’s own check. Origin Belgium, notified by United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: foodborne outbreak suspected (Salmonella enteritidis) to be caused by eggs, following food poisoning. Origin Germany, notified by France;

– Pesticide residues: tebuconazole and trifloxystrobin in mangoes, following company’s own check. Origin Pakistan, notified by Belgium, distributed also to Germany, Iceland, Italy and Netherlands.

Amongst border rejections we have Salmonella in frozen boneless skinless marinated chicken inner fillets, frozen salted chicken innerfillets, frozen spiced turkey medallions, frozen turkey and poultry meat preparation from Brazil, unauthorised substance dichlorvos, cypermethrin and chlorpyriphos in dried oloyin beans from Nigeria, attempt to illegally import paan leaves from Bangladesh and melon seeds and dried beans from Nigeria, aflatoxins in peanuts, nutmeg powder, crushed chillies, chilli peppers and fried coated groundnuts from India, in blanched peanuts from China, in pistachios from Iran, in shelled pistachio kernels from Iran (via Turkey), in groundnuts in shell from Egypt and in apricot kernels from Tajikistan (via Turkey), high bacterial count in and spoilage of sheep casings from Pakistan, live insects in cinnamon from Indonesia infested with moulds, chlorpyriphos in chilled asparagus peas from the Dominican Republic, methamidophos in green beans from Kenya, malathion in fresh peppers from Turkey, too high content of sulphite in dried pineapple and mango bites from Philippines, dimethoate in mangetout peas from Kenya, methamidophos and acephate in French beans with pods from Kenya, chlorfenapyr in papaya from Brazil, unauthorised substance carbofuran in peppers from the Dominican Republic, unauthorised substances sildenafil and tadalafil in food supplement dispatched from China, buprofezin, triazophos and imidacloprid in tea from China and anthraquinone and unauthorised substance dicrotophos in tea from China, via Hong Kong.

For feed, we have an information for follow up notification, followed by a recall from consumers:

Composition: too high content of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) in complementary feed for honeybees, following an official control on the market. Origin Germany, notified by Belgium.

For food contact materials we have border rejections for migration of manganese from egg beaters and of chromium and nickel from wine stopper from China.

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