§ Mr. Stinchcombe
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what research his Department has commissioned into the possible(a) health dangers and (b) side-effects of Aspartame; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the health risks posed by Aspartame. 
§ Ms Jowell
The Department has not commissioned any research in this area. However, the Department regularly reviews new information on food chemical safety and, when appropriate, seeks advice from its expert advisory committees. In 1992 the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) completed a thorough review of the toxicity of aspartame and reaffirmed its earlier advice that aspartame was safe to use. The COT also considered reports linking aspartame with a variety of adverse effects such as headache, seizures and behavioural difficulties in children. There was insufficient evidence to support such claims. Aspartame has also been given safety clearance 533W by the European Commission's Scientific Committee for Food. A study published in 1996 which suggested a link between aspartame and brain cancer was rejected by the Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment.