High-intensity sweeteners: Today ANSES issues a preliminary review of their nutritional risks and benefits during pregnancy

18 June 2012

Following an initial Opinion published in March 2011 based on two studies of the health effects of high-intensity sweeteners, ANSES made an internal request for assessment of the nutritional risks and benefits of these additives. The assessment is currently under way and a preliminary progress report was published today which deals specifically with the effects of consumption of these sweeteners by pregnant women. However, due to an insufficient number of studies on pregnant women, no conclusions as to any potential risk can be put forward. As for the possible benefits, no nutritional advantage to consuming high-intensity sweeteners during pregnancy has been demonstrated.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) issued an internal request on 30 June 2011 for an assessment of the nutritional health benefits and risks of high-intensity sweeteners. Following a specific request by the Ministry of Health, the Agency published a progress report today on the assessment of the benefits and risks of high-intensity sweeteners for pregnant women.

As regards a potential risk during pregnancy, ANSES considers that the scientific data available on pregnant women are not sufficient to provide a conclusion. ANSES therefore considers that new studies are needed, especially considering that the study by Halldorsson (2010), already examined by ANSES, reports a dose-response relationship between consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages and the risk of induced premature birth.

ANSES emphasises that no studies show any nutritional benefits of consuming these substances during pregnancy.

Due to the very small number of studies available on the consumption of high-intensity sweeteners during pregnancy, these conclusions will be revised as necessary with regard to ANSES's work on the general population, for which the analyses may be extrapolated to pregnant women. ANSES will issue, if necessary, recommendations based on all the available data.

In addition, the Agency wishes to emphasise that EFSA's conclusions regarding a possible reassessment of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame are expected in late 2012.

Find out more

> Read the progress report on the nutritional benefits and risks of aspartame consumption by pregnant women (in French only)
> Read the report on the International Sweeteners Association audition of 02 April 2012 (in French only)
> Read the report on the Réseau Environnement Santé (Environmental Health Network) audition of 04 April 2012 (in French only)
> Read the report on the Syndicat national des boissons rafraichissantes (SNBR - French Refreshment Beverages Union) audition of 24 April 2012 (in French only)
> Read the news flash of 15 March 2011 : "ANSES assesses the nutritional benefits and risks of intense sweeteners"