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Thursday, 12 May 2011 - StrasbourgOJ edition

Question no 33 by Gilles Pargneaux (H-000173/11 )  
 Subject: Possible conflicts of interest concerning aspartame

In its answer to my question No H-000072/2011 of 8 March 2011, the Commission stated that it would not re-evaluate aspartame before 31 December 2020.

Could the Commission please indicate what quantity of food or medicines would need to be consumed to reach the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg?

Should the EFSA statement of 28 February 2011 not be called into question in light of the fact that Dominique Parent-Massin, an expert on the EFSA Panel on Food Additives, was under contract to Coca-Cola, a drinks company which is a major consumer of sweeteners, and Ajinomoto, the world’s largest producer of aspartame?

What is the Commission’s reaction to this latest conflict of interests?


(EN) Following the recent discussion which took place in Parliament Committee ENVI on the honourable Member's previous oral question H-000072/2011 (1) related to aspartame, the Commission is currently reflecting on the possibility to advance a full re-evaluation of aspartame to an earlier date than the planned re-evaluation, which is foreseen at the latest for December 2020 according to Commission Regulation (EU) No 257/2010(2) setting up a programme of re-evaluation for food additives.

Aspartame is authorised as a food additive in a number of different food groups at different maximum permitted levels. As a general rule, the potential intake of food additives through the diet depends on a number of criteria, e.g. the relative contribution of the various food groups to the daily intake and the concentrations of the food additive used in each of these food groups. In addition, it is important to indicate which population is targeted (children or adult), as the quantity of a specific foodstuff (containing a food additive) necessary to reach the acceptable daily intake (ADI) will depend on the weight of the targeted population, bearing in mind that the ADI is defined per kilogramme (kg) of body weight. The potential intake of aspartame through a medical treatment also depends of the number of doses per day and the age of the patients. Moreover, the treatment may be indicated for a limited number of days only. Therefore, this question cannot be answered in a general way.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed in its opinion of 2006 that the potentially ingested amount of aspartame(3) through the diet would be well below the ADI of 40 miligrammes per kg body weight day, even in the case of high consumers.

Under the rules of EFSA on a possible conflict of interest, like any other expert, the expert quoted in the honourable Member's oral question signed declarations of interest that have been evaluated by EFSA. In accordance with the EFSA rules on conflicts of interest, this expert did not take part to the discussions conducted on aspartame by the EFSA Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) Panel. In addition, the EFSA statement of 28 February 2011 was drawn up by EFSA and not by the EFSA-ANS Panel. Hence, the Commission does not see any conflict of interests in this case.


(2)Commission Regulation (EU) No 257/2010 of 25 March 2010 setting up a programme for the re-evaluation of approved food additives in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of Parliament and of the Council on food additives Text with EEA relevance, OJ L 80, 26.3.2010.
(3)Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in contact with Food (AFC) on a request from the Commission related to a new long-term carcinogenicity study on aspartame The EFSA Journal (2006) 356, 1-44.

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