- Posted July 5, 2013 by
Barr Lemonade Drink - Why was it Withdrawn?
The company AG Barr has withdrawn a batch of 500ml Barr lemonade drink due to a an element called aspartame. Aspartame is a sweetener used in low calorie drinks which is not included in the ingredients list. It's a potential safety issue for anyone with phenylketonuria.
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. It is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide. An artificial sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar. Due to this property, even though aspartame produces four kilocalories of energy per gram when metabolized, the quantity of aspartame needed to produce a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible.
What is Phenylketonuria?
It is an autosomal recessive metabolic genetic disorder characterized by a mutation in the gene for the hepatic enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), rendering it nonfunctional. This enzyme is necessary to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine (Phe) to the amino acid tyrosine. When PAH activity is reduced, phenylalanine accumulates and is converted into phenylpyruvate (also known as phenylketone), which can be detected in the urine. It can lead to mental retardation, seizures, and other serious medical problems
Dangers of Aspartame with those who have Phenylketonuria
Elevations of blood phenylalanine are dangerous for those with PKU, and require treatment and modification. A child with a level less than 6 mg/dl does not need to be on a special diet and is not risk for mental retardation, but should avoid aspartame at all cost due to the 50% phenylalanine levels.
There are quite a few problems with aspartame. The first is phenylketonuria (PKU). One out of 20,000 babies is born without the ability to metabolize phenylalanine, one of the two amino acids in aspartame. Toxic levels of this substance in the blood can result in mental retardation. Beyond PKU, several scientists believe that aspartame might cause altered brain function and behavior changes in consumers. And many people have reported the following side effects from aspartame:
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