The founder and president of the Mario Negri Irccs Institute for Pharmacological Research: “Learning the acronym with which it is indicated and moderating consumption”
“It certainly is a bit contradictory” for the pharmacologist Silvio Garattini the response of the World Health Organization on aspartame, which on the one hand is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Iarc as a possible carcinogen for humans (group 2B) and on the other confirmed safe by the FAO-WHO Jecfa committee at the maximum daily dose of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. “Already in itself the use of the ‘possible’ is very ambiguous and leaves uncertainty“, comments the founder and president of the Mario Negri Irccs Institute for Pharmacological Research to Adnkronos Salute. The scientist calls for “further research to definitively clarify” the effects of the sweetener on human health and in the meantime advises consumers to “use as little as possible.” But to allow citizens to make more informed choices, Garattini proposes, “the label should indicate aspartame with its name” instead of with an acronym.
The pharmacologist does not hide “the doubt that, since there is a global market worth 12 billion euros, we don’t want to touch too much. It almost makes you think so”, he underlines. “It is certain that this situation is equivocal – he repeats – and requires further research. In addition to saying ‘it is possible that it is carcinogenic’, we should insist on the fact that other studies are needed to reach a definitive conclusion, because if we don’t do research in this sense we will always find ourselves saying that it is ‘possible’ and therefore uncertain”.
Meanwhile, “consumers must be told to be careful – Garattini recommends – and to check the label” of food and drinks carefully. “We should also inform about the acronym that designates aspartame”, i.e. E951. “Let’s make it known to people – exhorts the scientist – The label should put ‘aspartame’, and in any case you need to know that this substance corresponds to that acronym and be careful what you buy”.