HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 cc955-7W
Mr. Roger Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what quantities of(a) aspartame, (b) monosodium glutamate and (c) saccharine were used in foods processed in the UK in each year since 1989; [172349]

(2) what estimate he has made of the (a) average daily and (b) annual per capita consumption of (i) aspartame, (ii) saccharine and (iii) monosodium glutamate in each year since 1989. [172363]

Miss Melanie Johnson

[holding answers 11 May 2004]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that when additives are authorised for use maximum use levels are set to ensure the acceptable daily intake (ADI) is not exceeded. The ADI is defined as the amount of a food additive, expressed as mg/kg body weight, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without incurring any appreciable health risk.

The ADIs for aspartame and saccharin are 40 and 5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day respectively. An 'ADI not specified' was set for monosodium glutamate reflecting the fact that glutamate is a component of animal and plant protein and represents some 20 per cent. of ingested protein of the normal diet.

Surveys of additive intake are not conducted on an annual basis, however the following intake data are available from studies conducted between 1991 and 2003.

In 1991 mean intakes of monosodium glutamate were assessed to be 600 mg per person per day and 1,300 mg per person per day for the general population and school children respectively.

In 1993 the per capita intake of aspartame, saccharin and monosodium glutamate was assessed to be:

Per capita intake
Aspartame 19.6 mg/person/day (13 per cent. of ADI)
Saccharin 12.2 mg/person/day (8.2 per cent. of ADI)
Monosodium glutamate 264.2 mg/person/day (ADI not specified)

The mean intake of aspartame and saccharin by United Kingdom consumers was assessed in 1999 to be:

Adult Children
Aspartame 5.30 mg/kg bw/day 13 per cent. of ADI 15.91 mg/kg bw/day 40 per cent. of ADI
Saccharin 0. 92 mg/kg bw/day 18 per cent. of ADI 2.56 mg/kg bw/day 51 per cent. of ADI

In May 2003, a survey by the FSA reported the intake of intense sweeteners from soft drinks by young children. The meat intake by young children was assessed to be:

Mean intake
Aspartame 3.38 mg/kg bw/day 8 per cent. of ADI
Saccharin 1.16 mg/kg bw/day 23 per cent. of ADI

Figures are not collected on the total quantity of additives used in foods processed in the UK.

Mr. Roger Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what regulations cover the labelling of foods containing(a) aspartame, (b) monosodium glutamate and (c) saccharine, (i) produced in this country and (ii) imported. [172350]

Miss Melanie Johnson

[holding answer 11 May 2004]: The labelling of foods containing additives, including aspartame, monosodium glutamate and saccharin, are covered in the United Kingdom by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. These implement the Food Labelling Directive 2000/13 EC. Foods imported into the UK and sold here would also have to comply with this legislation.