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aspartame reactors may send detailed feedback to Andrew Wadge, UK Food Standards Agency to guide new pilot study re bad reactions: Rich Murray 2009.06.22

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  • Rich Murray
    aspartame reactors may send detailed feedback to Andrew Wadge, UK Food Standards Agency to guide new pilot study re bad reactions: Rich Murray 2009.06.22
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 22, 2009
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      aspartame reactors may send detailed feedback to Andrew Wadge, UK Food
      Standards Agency to guide new pilot study re bad reactions: Rich Murray
      Monday, June 22, 2009


      Aspartame to be investigated after decade of claims it harms health
      By Sean Poulter
      Last updated at 11:29 PM on 22nd June 2009

      Aspartame, found in diet and other soft drinks, will be investigated
      after claims it causes nasty side effects such as headaches and
      stomach upsets

      Allegations that the artificial sweetener aspartame is linked to
      headaches and stomach upsets are to be investigated.
      The Food Standards Agency say the sweetener, marketed as
      Nutrasweet and Canderel, is safe.
      However it has ordered a probe into consumer concerns.
      The Agency's chief scientist Andrew Wadge, said:
      'This research is not to test the safety of aspartame -- that
      is already established.

      'The study will address consumer concerns, including anecdotal
      reports that have linked a range of conditions to aspartame.

      'The Agency's view remains that aspartame can be consumed
      safely and we are not recommending any changes to its current use.
      'However, we know that some people consider they react badly to
      consuming this sweetener so we think it is important to increase our
      knowledge about what is happening.'
      The pilot study will start next month and will be used to inform the
      design and feasibility of a proposed study led by the European Food
      Safety Authority.
      In May 2006, EFSA rejected a study by Italian scientists which
      named aspartame as a cancer risk.

      The watchdog said the study identifying a risk of leukaemia, kidney
      and other cancers was flawed.

      Subsequently, the author of the research, Dr Morandi Soffritti
      of the Ramazzini Foundation, stood by his team's findings
      and called for further research.
      A number of UK retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's
      and Asda, have voluntarily withdrawn aspartame from their
      own-label products as part of a wider drive to reduce the use of
      artificial additives.
      Aspartame manufacturers claimed the Food Standards Agency
      was bowing to scare mongering rather than making decisions
      based on science.

      A spokesman for the Aspartame Information Service, funded
      by manufacturer Ajinomoto, said she was puzzled as to why the
      Agency is spending public money on the new research.
      The organisation issued a statement saying: 'Aspartame, like all
      low-calorie sweeteners, is approved for use in the European Union
      under the terms of the European Sweetener Directive.

      'In May 2006, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
      stated: "There is no need to further review the safety of aspartame."
      'It is, therefore, surprising that the Food Standards Agency has
      announced that it is starting work on a further study on aspartame.
      'Large scale quantified consumer research commissioned by
      Ajinomoto and conducted by ICM Research has shown that there
      is no significant level of consumer concern about low calorie
      sweeteners in general or aspartame in particular.'
      It added: 'Aspartame, which is made from two amino acids, is
      digested just like any other protein and its components are treated
      by the body in exactly the same way as the same components
      in foods like meat, fish, eggs, milk and fruit juice.
      It tastes like sugar and enables food and drink companies to
      provide many popular low-calorie and sugar-reduced products.

      'Sales of products sweetened with aspartame have grown steadily
      since the ingredient was introduced in 1983.

      'The FSA has explained its actions by referring to "anecdotal reports
      that have linked a range of conditions to aspartame". These include
      rumours circulated on the internet by scaremongers and
      conspiracy-theorists, mostly from the United States.

      'In August 2007, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, faced
      with the same absurd allegations, stated: 'The claims being made
      -- and widely reported in the media -- are doing a great public
      disservice. The fact is, a large amount of very good science shows
      that aspartame is a very safe substance.

      'Studies that purport to show otherwise have thus far been
      overwhelmingly rejected by leading food safety authorities as flawed.'


      As the Food Standards Agency's Chief Scientist, I want this blog
      to show the importance of good science and how we use it to
      inform FSA policies and advice.

      I'll be using the blog to let you know what I and my scientist
      colleagues at the Agency are up to, what the emerging issues
      are, and how we propose handling them.

      Your feedback is important, so please submit any thoughts,
      comments or questions you have about our postings.

      Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist,
      Food Standards Agency, London WC2B 6NH


      Anecdotes, science and aspartame

      Posted by Andrew Wadge on June 22nd 2009
      in Science, safety and health blog [ comments accepted ]

      What role does 'anecdotal evidence' play in science?
      Truly anecdotal evidence is not evidence in the scientific sense,
      it's observation, it's often subjective, and the effects seen may
      be due to a number of factors all varying at the same time.
      Observation can help us towards understanding certain issues,
      but is a first step towards a testable hypothesis, not an end in itself.

      Therefore, anecdotal reports do sometimes deserve closer
      examination, especially when a number of unrelated people
      are reporting similar things. As a science based organisation,
      the Agency pays close attention to scientific evidence, but
      sometimes the anecdotal reports we receive are persistent
      enough to make us feel we need to take a closer look at
      people's concerns.

      This is the case with a pilot study we are starting today,
      which looks at the artificial sweetener aspartame.
      Some people have reported bad reactions after consuming
      food and drink containing this additive.
      The reactions include headaches and upset stomachs.

      Numerous pieces of research and risk assessments
      over the years have shown that aspartame can be consumed safely,
      but the reports of bad reactions persist. Given this continuing
      anecdotal evidence, we feel it's appropriate to see if we can find
      out more about why people report these effects.

      To do this, our pilot study will focus specifically on those people
      who have reported bad reactions. Results from this work will be
      used to inform the design and feasibility of a proposed study led
      by the European Food Safety Authority.

      If you have experienced bad reactions and would like to take
      part in the study, then please contact the Agency though the
      following address: aspartame@...

      This does not, however, change our general advice on aspartame.
      We are confident it can be consumed safely and we are not
      recommending any changes to its current use.

      UK Food Standards Agency, Main site www.food.gov.uk


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      Published 28 January 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b299
      Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b299
      Caffeine in pregnancy
      Food Standard Agency's advice on caffeine
      The first 100% of the full text of this article appears below.

      The Food Standards Agency's new advice to women on the
      amount of caffeine they should consume during pregnancy was not
      based on the results of its funded research alone.1, 2

      The independent experts on the Committee on Toxicity, after
      considering the results of this new study, as well as all of the other
      studies that have been published in peer reviewed literature on this
      subject, concluded that caffeine intake during pregnancy is
      associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction.

      On the basis of this risk assessment considering all of the available
      information, the Food Standards Agency has changed its advice.

      Full details of the search strategies, literature reviewed, and key
      studies considered are described in the Committee on Toxicity's

      Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b299

      Andrew Wadge, chief scientist 1

      1 Food Standards Agency, London WC2B 6NH

      Competing interests: None declared.

      1. CARE Study Group. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy
      and risk of fetal growth restriction: a large prospective
      observational study. BMJ 2008;337;a2332. (3 November.)
      2. Geleijnse JM. Cut caffeine in pregnancy? BMJ 2009;337:b300.
      3. Committee on Toxicity. COT statement on the reproductive
      effects of caffeine.

      formaldehyde in FEMA trailers and other sources (aspartame,
      dark wines and liquors, tobacco smoke): Murray 2008.01.30
      Wednesday, January 30, 2008

      The FEMA trailers give about the same amount of formaldehyde
      daily as from a quart of dark wine or liquor, or two quarts
      (6 12-oz cans) of aspartame diet soda, from their over 1 tenth
      gram methanol impurity (one part in 10,000),
      which the body quickly makes into formaldehyde -- enough
      to be the major cause of "morning after" alcohol hangovers.

      Methanol and formaldehyde also result from many fruits and
      vegetables, tobacco and wood smoke, heater and vehicle exhaust,
      household chemicals and cleaners, cosmetics, and new cars,
      drapes, carpets, furniture, particleboard, mobile homes, buildings,
      leather ... so all these sources add up and interact with many other
      toxic chemicals.

      formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines, the first case series,
      Sharon E Jacob-Soo, Sarah A Stechschulte, UCSD, Dermatitis
      2008 May: Rich Murray 2008.07.18
      Friday, July 18, 2008

      Dermatitis. 2008 May-Jun; 19(3): E10-1.
      Formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines: a possible connection.
      Jacob SE, Stechschulte S.
      Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery,
      University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.

      Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener that has been
      linked to pediatric and adolescent migraines.

      Upon ingestion, aspartame is broken, converted, and oxidized into
      formaldehyde in various tissues.

      We present the first case series of aspartame-associated migraines
      related to clinically relevant positive reactions to formaldehyde on
      patch testing. PMID: 18627677

      formaldehyde from many sources, including aspartame, is major
      cause of Allergic Contact Dermatitis, SE Jacob, T Steele,
      G Rodriguez, Skin and Aging 2005 Dec.: Murray 2008.03.27
      Thursday, March 27, 2008

      "For example, diet soda and yogurt containing aspartame
      (Nutrasweet), release formaldehyde in their natural biological

      One of aspartame's metabolites, aspartic acid methyl ester, is
      converted to methanol in the body, which is oxidized to
      formaldehyde in all organs, including the liver and eyes. 22

      Patients with a contact dermatitis to formaldehyde have been
      seen to improve once aspartame is avoided. 22

      Notably, the case that Hill and Belsito reported had a 6-month
      history of eyelid dermatitis that subsided after 1 week
      of avoiding diet soda. 22"

      Avoiding formaldehyde allergic reactions in children, aspartame,
      vitamins, shampoo, conditioners, hair gel, baby wipes,
      Sharon E Jacob, MD, Tace Steele, U. Miami, Pediatric Annals
      2007 Jan.: eyelid contact dermatitis, AM Hill, DV Belsito,
      2003 Nov.: Murray 2008.03.27
      Thursday, March 27, 2008

      Sharon E. Jacob, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
      (Dermatology), University of California, San Diego
      200 W. Arbor Drive #8420, San Diego, CA 92103-8420
      Tel: 858-552-8585 ×3504 Fax: 305-675-8317

      formaldehyde in FEMA trailers and other sources (aspartame,
      dark wines and liquors, tobacco smoke): Murray 2008.01.30
      Wednesday, January 30, 2008

      details on 6 epidemiological studies since 2004 on diet soda (mainly
      aspartame) correlations, as well as 14 other mainstream studies
      on aspartame toxicity since summer 2005: Murray 2007.11.27

      aspartame groups and books:
      updated research review of 2004.07.16: Murray 2006.05.11

      opportunities re BA Magnuson, GA Burdock et al., Aspartame
      Safety Evaluation 2007 Sept., Critical Reviews in Toxicology:
      Rich Murray 2008.07.11
      Friday, July 11, 2008

      "Of course, everyone chooses, as a natural priority, to enjoy
      peace, joy, and love by helping to find, quickly share, and positively
      act upon evidence about healthy and safe food, drink, and

      Rich Murray, MA Room For All rmforall@...
      505-501-2298 1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505

      http://RMForAll.blogspot.com new primary archive

      group with 140 members, 1,577 posts in a public archive

      group with 1206 members, 23,560 posts in a public archive
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