By Stephen Fox
Mission Possible New Mexico

Posted: 26 March 2018

251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Tunney-s Pasture, PL: 2202E
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

March 23, 2018

Stephen Fox
121 W. San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
United States of America

Dear Mr. Fox,

Thank you for your correspondences of March 1, to the Honourable Ron McKinnon, Member of Canadian Parliament, and of March 5, 2018, to the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the Canadian federal Minister of Health, concerning the safety of sweeteners such as aspartame and the labelling requirements for these sweeteners when present in foods sold in Canada.

Your correspondence suggests that certain high-intensity sweeteners, including aspartame, will no longer need to be labelled on foods sold in Canada. This is not the case. Health Canada is proposing to repeal a duplicative labelling requirement for foods containing aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium, and neotame. The proposed regulatory amendments would simply remove the requirement for any of the four sweeteners mentioned above to be shown on the principal display panel of prepackaged foods. All sweeteners, including these four sweeteners, will still be required to appear in the list of ingredients on the product label as is the case for all other food additives. There is a small subset of the population that has a metabolic disorder requiring that they avoid or limit their intake of phenylalanine. Since this amino acid is present in aspartame, the label of foods sweetened with aspartame will still be required to carry a statement to the effect that aspartame contains phenylalanine (it is proposed to also allow use of the alternative statement "Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine").

The mandatory labelling requirements for food ingredients, including sweeteners, allows those consumers wishing to avoid or limit their consumption of particular food ingredients to do so by checking the list of ingredients on pre-packaged foods.

Regarding the safety of aspartame when used as a food additive, food additives, artificial sweeteners included, are strictly regulated in Canada.

The foods to which they can be added and the maximum concentrations in those foods are shown in the List of Permitted Sweeteners. This List can be viewed on the following Health Canada webpage:

Aspartame has been permitted for use as a sweetener in Canada since 1981. It underwent a thorough safety evaluation prior to being approved. Over the years, questions about the safety of aspartame have periodically appeared. One example was a claim in 2005 by the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Science that aspartame caused cancer in rats. Health Canada, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority evaluated the studies upon which this claim was based. All three food safety assessment authorities found that the results of the studies did not support the Ramazzini Foundationís conclusions.

With respect to other claims that have been made about the safety of aspartame, including concerns about the release of methanol during aspartame digestion, I invite you to visit the following Health Canada information page on aspartame:

Health Canada continues to review studies on dietary exposure to food additives, including aspartame, as they become available. If new scientific information were to emerge in the future indicating that aspartame or any other permitted food additive is unsafe, then Health Canada would no longer permit it to be used.

I hope that my comments are helpful in addressing your concerns.

Thank you for writing.

I hope that my comments are helpful in addressing your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Karen McIntyre
Director General, Food Directorate