Aspartame is an artificial sweetener now used in an astonishing variety of foods and drinks sold commercially. It is classified as a “non-saccharide” sweetener. Aspartame is chemically synthesized from a molecular construction known as a “methyl ester” and was first produced in 1965, according to industry resources. Aspartame is particularly popular in the variety of diet drinks sold as low calorie options, including all kinds of sodas and iced teas. Many processed foods also contain this sweetener, and it's a common addition to the small printed nutritional ingredient lists on supermarket products.
FDA Approval of Aspartame
Established sources show that aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1981. However, after that time, conflicting studies and opinions have caused a lot of controversy over whether aspartame was indeed safe for public consumption. Some studies seem to find evidence of a carcinogenic property of aspartame through animal testing. Later, it was commonly understood that the studies could not provide a cause and effect link between aspartame and cancer.
FDA Approved Levels of Aspartame
Established regulatory sources put the FDA's current approved level of aspartame at 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. That would be over 20 cans of diet soda or a similar drink for someone weighing 165 pounds or more. This extremely high level of approved aspartame indicates that the regulatory agency considers this product very safe for public use. The actual average public use of aspartame is much lower, as low as 7% of the approved ADI or average daily intake, according to some surveys.
Although aspartame has been approved for a long time, its passage through FDA approval has been marred by ongoing questioning and criticism from some consumers and advocacy groups. A large number of individual consumers report health problems that they suspect being linked to aspartame. Ongoing animal studies continue to find disturbing data that, while not providing a specific cause-and-effect relationship, continue to raise questions for some scientists.
With the huge proliferation of different types of sweeteners on the market, consumers now have many choices for getting a sugary flavor into their drinks and foods. Natural plant-based sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar are just now making their way into the common marketplace. In recent years, as the variety of sweetening agents became ever more diverse, there were reports that some of the companies producing the majority of aspartame had scaled down operations due to decreased demand and an “erosion of the profit margin.”
It's true that today's consumers have a variety of options for sweeteners. Stevia and other plant-based confectionery items are often on the shelf at local supermarkets. There are also many forms of organic cane-based sugar and honey available, as well as other synthetic sweeteners that have been on the market for many years. Individuals and families can make their own choices about the products and sweeteners that they buy, according to their thoughts on what constitutes a safe and healthy choice.