Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company.
It is a low-calorie sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Aspartame is unique among low-calorie sweeteners in that it is completely broken down by the body into its components – the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and a small amount of methanol. These components are found in much greater amounts in common foods, such as meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables, and are used by the body in the same ways whether they come from aspartame or common foods.
Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly studied food ingredients ever, with more than 200 scientific studies supporting its safety. In addition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Union (SCF), and regulatory agencies in more than 100 countries have reviewed aspartame and found it to be safe for use.
Consumer research shows that low- and reduced-calorie foods and beverages have become part of the lifestyle of millions of men and women who want to stay in better overall health, control their weight, or simply enjoy the many low- or reduced-calorie products available. Currently, aspartame is found in more than 6,000 products and is consumed by over 200 million people around the world.