The Nutrition Foundation of Italy and the Italian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition: the Scientific Community Endorses the Safety of Low and No Calorie Sweeteners

Italian and European food safety, health and nutrition experts gathered in Rome on 11 January 2012 for a conference on “No Calorie Intense Sweeteners: Focus on Safety of Use”, at the head office of the Italian Ministry of Health. All experts attending reached the conclusion that all low and no calorie sweeteners currently on the market are safe for consumption. This view supports the position of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which states that low and no calorie sweeteners approved for use in foods and drinks in the European Union are perfectly safe.

Speaking at the conference, Andrea Poli, Scientific Director of the Nutrition Foundation of Italy (NFI), said: “Recent years have seen the dissemination of contradictory information about the alleged health risks arising from the consumption of some low and no calorie sweeteners such as aspartame. This information is contrary to the prevailing opinion of the scientific community. At today’s conference, which viewed the latest position of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), top-tier experts said that there is no longer room for doubt about the safety of these substances, which have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by the appropriate regulatory authorities.” The conference was addressed by a panel of authoritative scientific experts including: Giuseppe Fatati, President of Fondazione ADI (the Italian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition), John Christian Larsen, Chief Consultant in Toxicology and Risk Assessment of the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Carlo La Vecchia, Epidemiologist at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research and at the University of Milan, Marina Marinovich, President of the Italian Society of Toxicology, and Andrea Poli. Giuseppe Fatati underlined that: “Today’s conference is important in amplifying a message that is already deep-seated in the global scientific community: the safety of low and no calorie sweeteners. Our final objective is to reassure people who consume products containing low and no calorie sweeteners and to confirm that, if consumed as part of a balanced diet, they can help people to manage their calorie intake — which is so important as we face the spread of more sedentary lifestyles.”

Carlo La Vecchia, added: “None of the epidemiological studies conducted by us or by the US National Cancer Institute has found that low and no calorie sweeteners, with particular regard to the two sweeteners mostly debated, saccharin and aspartame, pose any risk to human health. None of the alarms issued over the past forty years has ever been borne out by the results.”

John Christian Larsen, noted: “The authorities which examine and evaluate the safety of low and no calorie sweeteners follow rigorous methods, widely accepted worldwide. Moments of debate and communication, like today’s conference, are important as they aim to clarify many “false alarms” on low and no calorie sweeteners’ safety launched in the past.” Also speaking at the conference, Marina Marinovich concluded: “All food additives are subjected to broad-ranging and in-depth testing before they obtain approval, and low and no calorie sweeteners are no exception. The studies questioning the safety of these substances have generally been based on parameters that do not comply with commonly accepted methods, and must therefore be deemed inadmissible from a scientific perspective.”