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2. How much aspartame do people consume?

    The source document for this Digest states:

    Exposure assessment

    European Commission report on Food Additive Intake

    In the European Commission report on Dietary Food Additive Intake in the European Union (EC, 2001), estimates of intake were calculated using a tiered approach. Tier 1 is based on theoretical food consumption data and maximum usage levels for additives as permitted by relevant Community legislation. The second and third tiers refer to assessment at the level of individual Member States, combining national data on food consumption with the maximum permitted usage levels for the additive (Tier 2) and with its actual usage patterns (Tier 3). Aspartame has been examined at Tier 1 for adults and at Tier 2 for children.

    Aspartame intakes for adults were estimated at Tier 1 to be 21.3 mg/kg bw/day in the European Union. The Tier 1 approach is likely to be an overestimate of actual intake even by high level consumers of aspartame-sweetened foods. More refined intake estimates (Tier 2) were performed for children. Information from individual member states showed that the refined estimated intake for children was 1-40% of the ADI. Therefore aspartame was excluded from further consideration as both adults and children were shown to be unlikely to exceed the ADI of 40 mg/kg bw.

    Other published intake estimates for European countries

    In addition to the Commission report, a number of reports have been published from 1990 onwards with estimates of aspartame intake in European countries (Bär and Biermann, 1992; Butchko and Stargel, 2001; Garnier-Sagne et al., 2001; Hinson and Nicol, 1992; Leclercq et al., 1999; MAFF, 1990 and 1995; Renwick, 1990; Salminen and Penttilä, 1999). The table below shows the highest reported intake estimates for different age groups of the general population and people with diabetes. The data are based on actual food consumption combined with the actual sweetener levels present in the foods (equivalent to Tier 3 in the Commission report) or the maximum permitted aspartame levels (Tier 2). The estimates of intake by mean and high level consumers are fairly consistent between European countries even though slightly different approaches were used. High level consumers, both adults and children, are unlikely to exceed the ADI of 40 mg/kg bw for aspartame. Special groups such as diabetics that are likely to be high consumers of foods containing aspartame are also well below the ADI. Therefore, from the available data it appears that no group is likely to exceed the ADI for aspartame on a regular basis.

    Table: Highest reported intake estimates for aspartame

    Consumer group Country Mean consumer intake
    in mg/kg bw/d
    High level consumer intake in
    mg/kg bw/d (percentile quoted)
    * Using maximum permitted level of sweeteners in different food categories (Tier 2 approach). All the other figures are derived using actual sweetener levels present in foods.
    Children 1-5 years old UK - 2.8 (90) Hinson & Nicol, 1992
    Children 1-5 years old UK - 2.8 (90) Hinson & Nicol, 1992
    Children 1-6 years old Finland - < 4 (-) Salminen & Penttilä, 1999
    All ages Netherlands 2.4 7.5 (95) Butchko & Stargel, 2001
    All ages Norway 3.4 - Butchko & Stargel, 2001
    2-20 years old
    France 2.4 7.8 (97.5) Garnier-Sagne et al., 2001
    2-65 years old
    UK - 10.1 (97.5) MAFF, 1995

    Source & ©: EC-SCF   Update on the Safety of Aspartame

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