Artificial Sweeteners

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on health of sweeteners used in foods as an alternative to sugar.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Sweeteners are used in a variety of everyday foods in the United Kingdom, including energy reduced and sugar free foods. But before they are permitted for use, all sweeteners must first undergo a thorough safety evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which includes assessing the likely impact on health.

EFSA makes its assessment on the basis that all foods permitted to contain sweeteners have them at the maximum permitted level, this enables it to assess the highest possible levels of exposure and set the amount of a substance that can be consumed daily during a lifetime without any appreciable risk to health in the general population.

Evidence considered as part of Public Health England’s report ‘Sugar reduction: The evidence for action’ found that replacing foods and drinks sweetened with sugar with those containing no or low-calorie sweeteners could be useful in helping people to manage weight as they reduce the calorie content of foods and drinks whilst maintaining a sweet taste. A copy of this report can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470179/Sugar_reduction_The_evidence_for_action.pdf

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