More Questions and Answers
The Nutrition and Health Division of Ajinomoto North America, Inc. provides you with the answers to questions about Ajinomoto Aspartame.
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Why do products that contain aspartame have the label 'Contains a source of phenylalanine' on the packaging?
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid (that is, an amino acid which our bodies cannot make and which we must obtain from our diet). It is also one of the amino acids which are used to make aspartame. Phenylalanine is found in all protein-containing foods including milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fish.
Products which contain aspartame have a label which says 'Contains a source of phenylalanine'. This label is there to help people with a rare inherited genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). These people cannot metabolise phenylalanine from any source and need to control their intake of this amino acid. The disorder affects approximately 1 in 10,000, and is identified by screening shortly after birth.
What is methanol and is it a problem in consuming aspartame?
Methanol is a natural and harmless by-product of human metabolism and of the digestion of many commonly consumed foods. Traces of methanol also occur naturally in our blood, in our saliva, and on our breath. The methanol produced when aspartame is digested is identical to that which is provided in larger amounts from fruits, vegetables and their juices. A glass of tomato juice provides about six times more methanol than the same volume of an aspartame-sweetened soft drink.
The small amount of methanol produced by foods in a normal diet is safe. A person would have to drink an impossible amount (between about 240 and 600 litres of an aspartame-sweetened soft drink at one sitting) to reach a toxic level.