By Alison White

Posted: 13 March 2008

Sent: 11 October 2007

"We would like to make a few comments and some suggestions about the Food Safety Authority's stance on controversial issues such as A1/A2 milk. It has unfortunately been our experience that where divergent views are held on food safety issues, that the Food Safety Authority has taken a very one-sided approach, ignoring and misrepresenting science, as well as attacking viewpoints and even people that present views contrary to current policy. We would like to see more openness, more impartiality, less emotive language and less mud slinging being used.

The Food Safety Authority will not endear itself to consumers when it continues to cling to views that coincide more often than not with manufacturers. My observation is that the Authority gives greater priority to the goal of protecting New Zealand's trade interests rather than of looking after consumers' interests.

A recent example of an issue where the Authority has attacked people holding different viewpoints is that of aspartame, the artificial sweetener. We would prefer the Authority to look more critically at the scientific evidence, as we express in a recent letter to the Listener: (below).

While we applaud the precautionary approach the Authority has taken over infant formula, we have yet to see a more balanced attitude in relation to other issues such as colourings and children, pesticides in food, genetically engineered food and country of origin labelling."

Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic (Letter to Listener Oct 07)

Is aspartame, the artificial sweetener 951, safe, or is it causing an ignored epidemic? The one-sided views of the Food Safety Authority on the controversial sweetener, coinciding with those of the manufacturers, seem to be more a case of defending current policy rather than critically examining research.

Gary Bowering of the Food Safety Authority in the Listener (22 September) supports his argument that aspartame is safe by quoting a recent review. What he omits to mention is that this review of the artificial sweetener is funded by Ajinomoto, a manufacturer of aspartame. While the reviewing panel is allegedly unbiased, the biased evidence and conclusions presented speak for themselves. How curious, for example, that no mention is made of ethanol, the natural counterbalance to methanol and found in fruit, but not in aspartame, where the isolated methanol poisons the brain. Industry-funded studies finding no fault with aspartame are mentioned plentifully, but the few independent studies mentioned, showing various adverse effects such as cancer, seizures and nervous system damage, are criticised extensively.

In our view the epidemic of aspartame disease rivals that of tobacco. This is why we have launched a petition asking for restrictions and education, if not a ban on aspartame.

If you currently have diet drinks, sugar-free products including medications, chewing gum and sports drinks (aspartame is found in more than 6000 products worldwide), and have unexplained symptoms, try the 60-day no-aspartame test and see for yourself what happens.

Alison White
Co-Convenor Safe Food Campaign