By Jim McDonald

Posted: 01 March 2012

SFSA/ FSA /EFSA - Not fit for purpose: - ( where methanol in our food is concerned)

In 1982 when COT for the UK knowingly accepted dubious studies from the US in support of GD Searle’s application for aspartame use in our food, they knew aspartame contained 10% by weight of methanol. Although well known as a severe metabolic poison in man, no tests were carried out to measure methanol toxicity, nor has an ADI for methanol ever been established.

In the 30 intervening years till now aspartame “safety” has been reviewed 12 times – 1982,1984, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2010, 2010, 2011(current review) without exception the opinion of whatever authority rubberstamped the review, was almost the same – “there was no need to alter their previous opinion on the safety of aspartame nor change the ADI”- No mention ever of any concern that aspartame safety was constantly under review and no public warning of this was ever issued - The question is, if aspartame is so safe why is all this testing required? - Who checks what the FSA/EFSA actually does?

FSA is currently conducting a pilot study on anecdotal evidence (the one we are all waiting for the result on) it was scheduled to last 18 months – it is now 12 months overdue. They tell us they are struggling to get 50 fast reacting volunteers, not because there are none out there but because anyone who knows they will react to aspartame is not willing to re-challenge. On the 24th of November 2011 I wrote to the chief Executive of the FSA asking for information on the progress of the study – he has not replied

It is 31 months now since the 18 month FSA sponsored Hull Pilot Study began - the first and only FSA/EFSA sponsored study in 30 years. No one talks about it now but the results could be crucial to the outcome of the current EFSA aspartame safety review. FSA is refusing to provide us with any details of how the study is progressing or to explain why it is now giving a completion date of the end of 2012 - 24months late. We have every reason to be concerned about this, the current EFSA review is scheduled to complete around Sept 2012. Anticipating another rubberstamping of aspartame safety, it could be awkward for EFSA if in the meantime the UK Pilot Study came up with the “wrong” results.

In October 2009 the UKAAC opened discussions with the FSA & EFSA on the question of the poisonous nature of methanol in aspartame, we informed them that we had worked out an ADI for methanol and when used to calculate the ADI of aspartame it worked out at 1.14mg/kg, 35Times lower than the current ADI of 40mg/kg. In March 2011 we informed them that we had calculated the methanol in the NOAEL of aspartame used to set their ADI, and advised them that the amount of methanol it contained could kill a human - How could any statuary authority possibly contemplate continuing to approve such a substance for human consumption, without a thorough assessment of this information? FSA and EFSA and now SFSA have done absolutely nothing in 3 years to verify or refute our claims

The SFSA, FSA /EFSA are currently ignoring our new evidence which indicates there might be something seriously wrong with the ADI and NOAEL of aspartame - they have not discussed, challenged nor refuted our work and by not including it in the current EFSA review, they are now suppressing important information relative to the review of aspartame safety – (it requires only a few minutes simple calculation to confirm our figures)

In Sept 2009 we contacted SFSA with our new evidence on the basis that, as a devolved matter SFSA would have a statutory Duty of Care to the Scottish people to independently investigate any new evidence, which comes to light indicating a possible threat to health from a food product. We found SFSA have abdicated their responsibility for aspartame to Westminster FSA and refuse to look at our evidence independently.

Questions from the PPC to the Scottish Government and Scottish Health were referred straight back to the SFSA!! The revolving door – Who checks what the SFSA / FSA actually does?

The facts are. Any time the ADI or methanol content of aspartame is questioned, FSA/SFSA hide behind two unsubstantiated myths. i) “the body handles methanol from aspartame in the same way as for methanol in fruits and vegetables” ii) “the body can handle small amounts of methanol quite safety” – because? - “There is much more methanol in fruits and vegetables than is released from aspartame”

As far as we are aware we are the only organisation in 30 years to question these myths in the UK. We can scientifically substantiate our new evidence but FSA/SFSA can discount it because it is not a peer reviewed scientific paper. – Observation, Intuition and Common Sense, are not in their vocabulary. In the interests of human health and following precautionary principles, our new evidence deserves to be properly publically assessed and either refuted scientifically or confirmed.

SFSA/ FSA/ EFSA: Not Fit for Purpose: (where methanol in our food is concerned) is the title of this paper I do not use it lightly, after 3 years of communications with SFSA/FSA/ EFSA that is my conclusion.

Anecdotal evidence shows, that the issues around methanol in our diet are now a Medical problem, not one for food scientists. The NHS is picking up the bill for the damage caused through many years of chronic methanol ingestion, which GP’s and other medical professionals are totally unaware of. Because FSA says aspartame is safe the damage and its cause, is under their “radars”

We are concerned that left with the FSA our evidence will again be buried or covered with uncontested “science” based on their myths, or totally excluded from the current aspartame review. We are challenging the very basis of the FSA case for aspartame safety, the ADI, any review work carried our without first establishing the correct ADI will be worthless.

In order for the PPC to reconsider allowing us to present our concerns to the Scottish medical Profession for an independent judgement on its merits, could we please test the SFSA case by requesting answers to the following questions:-

  1. What is the progress of the Hull Pilot study to date and why will it now be 2 years late in reporting?

  2. What scientific evidence do you have to support FSA’s notion that the body handles methanol in the same way as for fruits and vegetables?

  3. What scientific evidence do you have to support FSA’s notion that the human body can safely handle the small amounts of methanol delivered daily in our diets through aspartame ingestion?

  4. What answer do you have to the UKAAC suggestion, that the amount of methanol in the NOAEL of aspartame could kill a human; therefore, aspartame has never been safe for human consumption?

An NOAEL of aspartame in rats, is NOT an NOAEL of methanol in humans

Respectfully Yours

Jim McDonald
UK Aspartame Awareness Campaign ( UKAAC)