Thousands of food and medicine cupboard staples contain a sweetener that is set to be listed as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.

It was revealed this week that a World Health Organization body is set to reclassify aspartame as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ following a review of 1,300 studies.

Aspartame, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, can be found in thousands of household products. It is used in sugar-free foods and some medicines to improve the taste.

Along with popular drinks that contain the sweetener, including Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and Dr Pepper, other well-known products list it on their ingredients too.

They include Müllerlight yogurts, Lindahls yogurts, some brands of squash, Options hot chocolate and sugar-free chewing gum, including Extra’s.

The reclassification of aspartame follows a review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Its listing, however, is problematic as it does not detail whether the risk to human health is small or substantial.

Among the medications that contain aspartame are Lemsip Max Cold and Flu Lemon sachets and Boot’s own brand max strength cold and flu relief lemon flavour. It is also used to sweeten sugar-free cough sweets.

Aspartame is used in Halls sugar-free mentholyptus cherry flavour and some supplements including Tesco’s chewable vitamin C, Morrisons’ orange flavour chewable vitamin C and Boot’s vitamin C orange flavour.

It can also be found in some mouthwashes, including Care antiseptic mouthwash in aniseed flavour.

There has been debate over the safety of aspartame for years, with concerns that it could be linked to depression and could also fuel obesity by increasing people’s appetites.

However, regulators have repeatedly said it is safe following assessments of the sweetener.

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