Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams today (12 December) added to the growing controversy surrounding the use of the artificial sweetener aspartame in the production of over 6,000 food, drink and medical products.

Williams informed the House of Commons that there was “compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether,” the Guardian reported.

The newspaper said that Williams accused international regulators and lawmakers of failing to protect the public by licensing aspartame. Williams questioned the political and regulatory independence of those who approved the safety of the sweetener, particularly emphasising the central role of Donald Rumsfeld, supported by the then newly elected president Ronald Reagan.

Public health minister, Caroline Flint, responding for the government, said that an independent review of the products’ safety had been conducted as recently as 2001 and that the Food Standards Agency had not altered its advice that aspartame is safe for use in food. 

Williams’ inflammatory comments added to the controversy that has surrounded the product since the publication last month of a study carried out by the Ramazzini Institute of Bologna linking regular moderate consumption of the sweetener and the increased incidence of malignant tumours in rats.

As reported on just-food earlier this month, the European Food Safety Authority have been planning a review of the safety of aspartame following the Ramazzini report. The EFSA were unavailable for comment on Williams’ remarks.