Aspartame is an artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which are naturally found in many foods. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar in typical concentrations, without the high energy value of sugar.
Similar to other peptides, aspartame has a caloric value of 17 kilojoules per gram The quantity of aspartame needed to produce a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible, making it a popular sweetener for those trying to avoid calories from sugar. Aspartame is normally used in low-caloric food and beverage products (e.g. diet sodas, sugar-free chewing gum, desserts etc.)
Although it has been approved for use by various regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), some concerns have been raised about its potential hazards. Here are a few of them:
Aspartame has been reported to cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. Symptoms may include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat.
Individuals with a rare genetic disorder, phenylketonuria (PKU), should avoid aspartame since it can lead to a buildup of phenylalanine in the blood, which can be harmful to the brain.
Although scientific studies have produced mixed results, some people report experiencing migraines or increased headache frequency after consuming products containing aspartame.
Some anecdotal reports and studies have suggested a potential link between aspartame consumption and various neurological effects, such as dizziness, mood changes, depression, and cognitive impairment. However, the evidence is limited and inconclusive, and more research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship.
Concerns about the potential carcinogenic effects of aspartame have been raised over the years. However, extensive studies conducted by regulatory agencies and scientific organisations have not provided conclusive evidence linking aspartame to an increased risk of cancer in humans.
While aspartame is predominantly present in food products, it is advised to practice caution if you have medical conditions that require you to limit this substance in your diet.
Ensure you read food labels to carefully identify products containing aspartame and understand the recommended serving sizes.
If swallowed, urgent hospital treatment is likely to be needed. Do not induce vomiting, however if vomiting occurs, lean the patient forward or place them on their left side to prevent aspiration. Give the patient water to rinse out their mouth and they should slowly drink as much as they comfortably can. Seek medical attention immediately.
Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the event of exposure to the chemical. Adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants is required and it must be designed to handle explosive dusts.
The PPE recommended when handling caesium includes safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, PVC/leather gloves, safety facemasks and static-free clothing.
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