Dr. Berna Magnuson is Vice-President of Health Science Consultants and provides expertise in the area of safety and government regulation of foods, food ingredients and dietary supplements. She has written numerous peer-reviewed articles on the safety assessment of oral exposure to nanomaterials, especially as relates to food and dietary supplements. Berna obtained a BSc. degree in food science and nutrition, MSc degree in toxicology from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in Food and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Manitoba. She then completed post-doctoral training in cancer research. She was a faculty member, teaching food and nutritional toxicology course as well as conducting diet and cancer research at the Universities of Idaho and Maryland in the US before returning to Canada to work as a toxicology and regulatory consultant. She has also been a part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto. Berna has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and professional articles. She is an active member of various advisory boards, expert panels, and professional associations. Berna has been recognized as a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.
Low calorie sweeteners (LCS) are food additives that are intended to stimulate sweet taste receptors and provide sweetness to foods and beverages, without significant calories and without any physiological effects. There are numerous LCS with differing taste profiles and chemical structures approved for use in foods and beverages globally. Extensive safety testing has been conducted and submitted to regulatory agencies for all LCS, as required for approval for use, but these detailed studies are often not published in the scientific literature. An overview of the risk assessment of LCS will be presented, including a discussion of the different metabolic fates of different LCS. Experts in risk assessment agencies globally agree that LCS are safe, and that studies reporting possible adverse effects, after careful review, are unconvincing, due to flaws and limitations. Studies on aspartame and possible carcinogenic potential are an example of the conflicting results reported by some researchers and those reviewed and accepted by regulatory agencies. Examples will be discussed to illustrate why the controversy continues despite hundreds of studies, extensive regulatory reviews, and millions of research dollars having been spent on LCS safety assessments over the years. Participants will gain an understanding of risk assessment and how the different LCS are absorbed, metabolized, and excreted, which will facilitate critical evaluation of the biological plausibility of purported physiological effects.