The FDA has recently approved its sixth artificial sweetener – Advantame. This is a super-sweetener, at almost 20,000 times sweeter than table sugar. For comparison, aspartame is only 200 times sweeter than sugar, and sucralose is 600 times sweeter.
Advantame is manufactured by Ajinomoto, the world’s largest manufacturer of aspartame, a controversial artificial sweetener.
This is what the FDA had to say:
Advantame is a free-flowing, water soluble, white crystalline powder that is stable even at higher temperatures, and can be used as a tabletop sweetener as well as in cooking applications. Advantame has been approved for use as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer and can be used in baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages (including soft drinks), chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings, and syrups.
In evaluating the safety of advantame under the petitioned conditions of use, the FDA reviewed data from 37 animal and human studies. The safety studies were designed to identify possible toxic effects, such as reproductive, neurological, and cancer-causing effects. The FDA concluded after a thorough evaluation that advantame is safe for human consumption under the petitioned conditions of use.
According to an initial review by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), one of the key safety studies was flawed – too many mice died before the end of the study to provide a large enough sample set.
A European review found the sweetener safe as well, but stated that
the critical effect observed in animal studies was maternal toxicity (gastrointestinal disturbances) in the prenatal developmental toxicity study in rabbits.