According to a Washington Post report, aspartame, one of the world’s most used artificial sweeteners, has come under renewed examination in the United States after a recent study connected it to an elevated cancer risk.

This comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning against the use of artificial sweeteners more than a month ago. According to Reuters, WHO’s cancer research agency is expected to declare the popular sugar replacement a probable carcinogen next month. The Reuters report is based on two persons familiar with the procedure.

According to the Washington Post, the FDA authorised aspartame for human ingestion in 1981 but has afterwards reconsidered its safety five times. It has been approved for usage in over 90 countries, including India.
Aspartame contains no calories and is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. In a 2009 document, India’s food safety and regulation organisation FSSAI proposed maximum allowable quantities of the artificial sweetener based on the food product.

The FSSAI has also mandated that items containing aspartame properly label the sweetener’s name.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the American Beverage Association, which represents major beverage companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, has started a protest against the FDA investigation.
“There is broad agreement among scientists and regulators that aspartame is safe.” “It’s a conclusion reached time and time again by food safety agencies around the world,” said Kevin Keane, chief executive of the beverage association, to the Washington Post.

According to Reuters, the IARC verdict, which was approved earlier this month following a meeting of the group’s external experts, is supposed to examine whether something is a possible hazard or not based on all available information. It does not, however, consider how much of a substance a person can safely consume. The WHO issued new guidelines in May warning against the use of so-called non-sugar sweeteners, or NSS.

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