Measuring phenylalanine content in food, drink and medicinal products
Phenylalanine labelling of food and drink beverages is essential to alert people with the rare inherited condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU). With this condition, the amino acid phenylalanine cannot be broken down and which then builds up in the blood and brain. This can lead to serious health complications and even brain damage.
Testing for PKU often takes place shortly after birth and if diagnosed, treatment involves a low protein diet along with controls of intake for other foods to control phenylalanine levels.
Phenylalanine is also one of the 2 amino acids (aspartic acid being the other amino acid) that make up aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
Aspartame is found in many products as a sugar substitute including diet drinks and some medicines. All food and medicines that contains aspartame MUST be labelled to alert people with special dietary requirements.