HistoryAspartame is an artificial sweetener first created in 1965, and it's patent expired in 1992. It was sold under the trade name Nutrasweet, Equal, and Canderel. (Wikipedia) Its breakdown products include phenylalanine, so aspartame must be avoided by people with the genetic condition phenylketonuria (PKU). In 1985 Monsanto bought G. D. Searle and the Nutrasweet division became it's own division of Monsanto. Aspartame tends to lose it's sweetness after being heated in warm foods. You'd be surprised how often aspartame appears in the sauces of frozen dinners, especially sweet, Asian sauces.
The approval of aspartame in the US was clouded by controversy and suspicious activity. At first aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974; however, problems with the manufacturer Searle's safety testing program, including testing of aspartame, were discovered later. The approval was rescinded in 1975, but after outside reviews of the problematic tests and additional testing, final approval was granted in 1981. (I can't find if the "additional testing" was by third parties or not.) Because allegations of conflicts of interest marred the FDA's approval of aspartame, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reviewed the actions of involved officials in 1986 and the approval process in 1987; neither the allegations of conflict of interest nor problems in the final approval process were substantiated
The Acceptable Daily Intake is the amount that can be eaten daily, over a lifetime, without significant "health risk". If you get headaches, general malaise, or other problems when you eat aspartame/Nutrasweet, you should probably avoid it.
It's still not clear if aspartame is dangerous for a majority, or significant minority of people. You have to decide for yourself.
"A History..." topics coming soon: e-cigarettes, US food in the 1800s (this one is nasty).
- Here's more on the aspartame controversy.
- Here's a page that has 200 studies that claims aspartame is safe.
- Here's a page from NaturalNews.com with studies that claim aspartame may not be safe. NaturalNews sometimes seems to cherry pick studies to make their argument, but it sometimes is a source of studies to look into more carefully.
- Aspartame Toxicity Center. Claims aspartame is bad. Be careful with messages that overgeneralize and claim X is bad for 100% of all people. Some people have a problem with aspartame, some don't.