The Centre will establish its own regulations for artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and does not have to follow the recommendations of international organisations, according to a top official of India’s food safety regulator, the Economic Times reported.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Advisor HS Oberoi was speaking at a conclave organised by the Indian Beverages Association (IBA), which represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other companies.
Oberoi said that India does not have to follow the West or East in setting standards for artificial sweeteners, as India is in a powerful position. He added that India is currently studying the effects of consuming aspartame and other sweeteners on the Indian population.
According to media reports, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO’s (World Health Organisation) cancer research arm, is expected to declare aspartame as a possible carcinogen. Aspartame, a commonly used artificial sweetener, is used as a substitute for sugar by manufacturers of soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and low-calorie snacks. The IARC report is expected to come out on July 14, a development that could have a far-reaching impact on the consumption of low-sugar and diet beverages and foods.
Oberoi stated that FSSAI will establish regulations and usage limits for artificial sweeteners based on its own risk assessment studies and in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including food and beverage firms, researchers, and government agencies. Regulation of sweeteners will be based on what our scientists feel is good for the Indian population, Oberoi added.
Two months ago, the WHO released conditional guidelines stating that non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) such as aspartame and stevia do not aid in weight loss and may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. WHO also stated that replacing sugar with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term.