Aspartame Food Additive and its Biochemical Implication: A Review

Carol Chibuzo. Nweze, Alqasim Abdullahi Mustapha, Muhammed Olose


There are thousands of substances known as additives that are intentionally added to the food that we consume. The foods may be prepared at home, offices, or processed in industries. These substances generally are known as food additives which include preservatives, conditioners, stabilizers, thickners, colourings, flavours, antioxidants and so on. Food additives play a vital role in today’s food supply, by allowing our growing urban population to have a variety of foods year-round.  They make possible an array of convenience foods without inconvenience of daily shopping, “but their safety may not be guaranteed”. In Nigeria, additives are regulated by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) according to Food additive regulations 2004 section 8 of the Drug and Related products (Registration, etc) Act (as amended). Many food additives have been internationally approved in the past by regulation bodies and later banned. The observations on studies and report on adverse effects of Aspartame consumption should make its acceptance to be taken with some reservation, and it requires call for concerns, same applies to some other approved food additives. Aspartame, the technical name for brand names; NutraSweet, Equal, E951, and Equal - measure. It is chemically made up of Aspartic acid (40%), Phenylalanine (50%), and Methanol (10%) and was first approved for use by FDA for dry goods in 1981 and carbonated beverages in 1983. Despite being widely used, 75% of the adverse reactions and trigger on certain chronic illnesses to food additives that were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration have been on Aspartame. This intensive sweetener widely used in Food and Drug Industries, consumed primarily in beverages and other kinds of food/drugs causes significant effects in plasma, and probably phenylalanine levels in the brain. Report has shown that some people suffer neurological or behavioural reactions in association with aspartame consumption. Phenylalanine in Aspartame has been associated with neurotoxicity and also affects the synthesis of inhibitory monotransmitters, and has been shown to mediate neurological effects. It has also been shown to potentiate induction and seizures. It stops growth of the nerve cells when consumed in mixture of some other additives. The worrying adverse reactions of aspartame and other food additives are cause for concerns for the Government, Regulatory bodies, Food additive producers, Researchers, The Media, and consumers in general.

Keywords: Food additives, Biochemical implications, Aspartame, Regulation

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