Aspartame

In: Science

Submitted By lynitha
Words 322
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“Aspartame: Sweet Friend or Bitter Enemy?”
Responding to the Public
(Week 5 Alternative Assignment)
HCS 539

What is Aspartame?

“Human beings have an attraction to sweet food. Even ancient cave paintings at Arana in Spain exhibit a Neolithic man procuring honey from a bee’s nest. (Blachford, 2002). Aspartame is the name for a non-carbohydrate, non-nutritive artificial sweetener. It is synthesized from two amino acids, aspartic acid and the essential amino acid phenylalanine. It is the most commonly used sugar substitute on the market. It was first isolated and discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter. Schlatter was a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company. It was an incidental finding while Schlatter was in the process of making an anti-ulcer drug. While turning a page in his reference materials, he licked his finger, only to find it incredibly sweet. During initial safety testing, there was some early debate as to whether aspartame was carcinogenic , or cancer causing, in laboratory rats. It was subjected to further studies before it was submitted to the FDA for approval as a food additive. Aspartame was finally approved for use, in dry foods, in 1974. Searle was initially not allowed to market it until 1981. In 1980, the FDA convened a board of inquiry into the claim that aspartame could have carcinogenic properties in rats, particularly brain cancer. The board’s findings were equivocal. They found that aspartame did not cause any documented forms of brain damage. It was, however, still concerned about initial claims of brain cancer in rats. The board actually revoked the FDA’s initial approval due to the uncertain findings. Later in 1981 the FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes overturned the boards’ ruling and declared aspartame safe for human consumption and re-approved its use in dry goods. The commissioner…...

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