British experts have cast doubt on the safety of an artificial sweetener used in thousands of products including big brand diet soft drinks from Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Academics at the University of Sussex claim that an EU food watchdog assessment giving a clean bill of health to aspartame, a calorie-free sugar alternative, was seriously flawed.
Professor Erik Millstone, who has been a long-time critic of the additive, argues that there are many scientific studies that raise legitimate safety questions together with circumstantial evidence of neurological harm.
As a result, he is calling for the suspension of authorisation to sell or use aspartame in the EU pending an independent investigation.
He argues that anything from 2-10 per cent of consumers suffer neurological effects, ranging from blurred vision to headaches and, in a small number of worst cases, seizures.
'I have had about 250 people come to me saying they think aspartame caused a problem,' he said.
'I would describe it as strong circumstantial evidence that they have had neurological symptoms and have eventually come to the conclusion aspartame was responsible.'
Prof Millstone has previously been criticised by the makers of aspartame, who have questioned his expertise, accused him of ignoring scientific evidence and suggested he is obsessed.
Aspartame is roughly 200 times sweeter than table sugar and has been used as a calorie-free alternative in more than 6,000 consumer foods and drinks, including Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.'
Read more: Experts call for fresh ban on 'seriously flawed' artificial sweetener used in thousands of products including Coca-Cola and Pepsi over safety fears
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