The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will review the World Health Organization's (WHO) report that expresses concern about the artificial sweetener aspartame's potential to cause cancer, reported The Economic Times (ET).
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO’s cancer research arm, is expected to declare aspartame as a possible carcinogen, according to reports.
A senior FSSAI official who asked to remain anonymous said, "We will review the report after we receive it. The report should be delivered to the authorities soon."
Meanwhile, representatives of food companies claimed that the report could mislead consumers into increasing their intake of sugar.
Aspartame is one of the world’s most commonly used artificial sweeteners. As a "healthier" substitute for sugar, it is widely used in India by manufacturers of soft drinks, breakfast cereals, ice cream, and juices.
The WHO report's endorsement by India's food regulator could have a significant negative impact on sales of these products.
On the other hand, the International Council of Beverages Associations, which represents Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, expressed confidence in aspartame's safety, as there is scientific evidence and “positive safety determinations by food safety authorities in over 90 countries”.
“...deeply concerned that this leaked opinion contradicts decades of high-quality scientific evidence and could needlessly mislead consumers into consuming more sugar, rather than choosing safe no- and low-sugar options — all on the basis of low-quality studies,” it said.