Food Safety diet soda acesulfame

Published on August 31st, 2012 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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How Safe Will The New Diet Pepsi Be?

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Diet Pepsi acesulfame

The Wall Street Journal reported today that PepsiCo is testing new artificial sweetener formulas for Diet Pepsi, including the controversial acesulfame.

How safe will Diet Pepsi with acesulfame be?

The current formula uses only one artificial sweetener, aspartame, the primary ingredient in Equal and NutraSweet.  The move to replace the aspartame-only formula of Diet Pepsi appears to be the result of a the tendency of aspartame to break down and lose some of its sweetness in high temperatures in warehouses and during transport. Shaking during bumpy, truck trips may also be a culprit. As of 2010, Diet Pepsi represented a 5.3% market share of all carbonated soft drink sales in the United States, and was ranked as the #7 soft drink brand by volume. So, a change in formula will impact lots of people. Rumors have it that the new formula would use a “blend of artificial sweeteners” likely a combination of aspartame and acesulfame potassium (the primary ingredient in Sunett).

What is acesulfame potassium? Unlike aspartame, which is “one of the most rigorously tested food ingredients to date,” critics say that the safety studies for acesulfame potassium range from outdated to inadequate and that it may be carcinogenic. Although the FDA approved acesulfame for use in soft drinks in 1998, the approvals were based on safety studies paid for by the additive’s manufacturer, Hoechst, all in the 1970s.

Gotta wonder. Given what we know – or rather don’t know – it would seem that the new formula for Diet Pepsi may in fact be less safe than the current one. Buyer beware.

Image Credit: Diet Soda photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



  • Ricardo Ramirez

    All of the artificial sweetness are chemical imitators and are unhealthy aspartame was designed as a ant poison since it was sweet with worthless nutrients it would kill them. The onl non sugar sweetener I use is Stevia since it is a natural product that is sweet yet sugar free. Ever since I as diagnosed with type II diabetes I have dropped all sodas and got my sugar levels back close to normal. Avoid all sodas and food like substances that contain artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn sugar.

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