Aspartame (or APM) (pronounced /ˈæspərteɪm/ or /əˈspɑrteɪm/) is the name for an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many foods and beverages. In the European Union, it is known under the E number (additive code) E951. Aspartame is the methyl ester of a phenylalanine/aspartic acid dipeptide.
Aspartame was first synthesized in 1965. Its use in food products was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1980. Because its breakdown products include phenylalanine, aspartame is among the many substances that must be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition. Although some political activists, conspiracy theorists, and a few medical researchers have questioned the safety of aspartame, the most recent medical review on the subject concluded that “the weight of existing scientific evidence indicates that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener.”