The research aimed to record any effects from eating a snack bar that may or may not have contained aspartame. The study recruited individuals who reported reactions after consuming aspartame, alongside a matched control group of individuals who normally consume foods containing aspartame without problems.
The work took the form of a double blind randomised crossover study, the gold standard of scientific research. This type of study is designed to test the effect of a substance in such a way that neither the research team nor the participants know whether the bar consumed contains the test substance or not. Double blind studies therefore eliminate the risk of prejudgement by participants or researchers which could distort the results.
Further information about the study can be found via the link below (project code FS231010).
A research paper containing the detail and results of the study has been submitted by the researchers for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The FSA will publish the full study once it has appeared in a journal.
The Hull York Medical School study, which was commissioned by the FSA, looked at the reported effects of self-diagnosed reactions to aspartame and did not consider the overall safety evaluation of aspartame.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as part of its systematic re-evaluation of all currently permitted food additives, is carrying out a safety evaluation of aspartame; this is due to be published this month. The FSA will share the results of the Hull study with EFSA when it is published.