A is for Aspartame; B is for Barge pole!

There is evidence that more and more consumers are losing confidence in artificial sweeteners with 38% of people in a recent poll saying they actively avoided food & drink with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame.  This figure is a rise of 7% since 2012 when 31% said they avoided it.

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These concerns were reported in ‘The Grocer’ the on-line fast moving consumer goods magazine, who also referred to further evidence that 40% of consumers would potentially buy more diet products if they contained only natural sweeteners.

Aspartame is the artificial sweetener also referred to as E951. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar, and has been used in soft drinks and other low-calorie or sugar-free foods worldwide for over 25 years.

The scepticism felt by consumers about artificial sweeteners, is backed up by a study in to the ‘Neurobehavioural effects of aspartame consumption’,  published April 2014. This particular research found that those consuming high-aspartame diets, exhibited more depression, more irritable mood, and performed worse on spatial tests. It didn’t however link aspartame consumption with impaired working memory.

There is a whole host of other research focusing on artificial sweeteners, some saying it’s harmless some saying the complete opposite. The Food Standards Agency however outlines that the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) set for aspartame is 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This is equivalent to 2800 milligrams for an average British adult and means that an adult would have to consume 14 cans of a sugar free drink every day before reaching the ADI. That is assuming the sweetener was used in the drink at the maximum permitted level.

Whatever the evidence or ADI, it appears that many consumers wouldn’t touch artificial sweeteners with a barge pole.

Val

References & links:
The Grocer 23.8.14 Artificial sweeteners: consumer suspicion on the rise.

Lindseth, GN., Coolahan, S.E.,  Petros. T.V., & Lindseth. P.D. (2014) Neurobehavioral Effects of Aspartame Consumption, Research in nursing and health.

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