Czech companies prepare for possible ban on aspartame

Following the World Health Organization's warning about the sweetener, Czech companies are keeping an eye out for any EU rulings.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 18.07.2023 11:02:00 (updated on 18.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Following the announcement of the World Health Organization (WHO) last week that the sweetener aspartame is a "possible carcinogen," Czech food and beverage manufacturers are preparing for a possible ban on the product. 

According to Diana Chrpová of the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food, and Natural Resources at the Czech University of Life Sciences, companies are awaiting a possible EU-wide ban from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Chrpová stated that aspartame is globally one of the most widely used substitute sweeteners in food production and processing. "It can be found in products where it replaces ordinary sugar, for example in lemonades, syrups, confectionery products, in sweet and sour pickled vegetables, and fruit products," she added.

Shying away from the product

Seznam Zprávy writes that in Czechia the sweetener "is on a decline, and many manufacturers have stopped using it or reduced its use." Large beverage producer Kofola, for example, says that the product can be found in less than 0.2 percent of the company’s total drinks production volume.

"We have excluded aspartame from our products in the past and we do not expect it in the future either. We use refined sugar in our recipes. Only in certain cases do we use it to enhance taste," said Kofola spokeswoman Jana Ptačinská Jirátová.

Debating the risk

Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek previously said that the inclusion of the substance in the list of potentially carcinogenic products is an attempt to eliminate a risk that is only minimal. According to him, there is also no product in the Czech Republic that has a higher content of aspartame than 40 milligrams per kilogram of the consumer's weight, which is considered a safe dose. 

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The WHO itself noted that aspartame continues to be safe at regulated and small doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded directly to the WHO’s announcement, outright disagreeing with claims of potential danger and saying the chemical is safe.

According to the European Food and Safety Authority website, the agency is currently "re-evaluating" the safety of the sweetener and has identified a need for additional data to assess its true risks. No announcements have been made suggesting a potential ban or further regulation yet, but this may well be in the works.

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