Aspartame has an image problem, so the company that produces this artificial sweetener is pulling a branding 101 move: changing the name. Meet AminoSweet.
How is AminoSweet different from aspartame? It’s got a different name and a different logo. The white powder is the same food additive that you know and maybe fear. That fear isn’t surprising, because there’s so much drama surrounding research on aspartame.
Side note: I often hear folks say that aspartame is a product of Monsanto, but that’s not true anymore. According to the company website: “Monsanto has not produced or sold aspartame for more than a decade.” Monsanto sold NutraSweet and Equal to different companies in 2000. I’m sure they made a nice profit, but they don’t make money from aspartame anymore. If avoiding Monsanto is your sole reason for avoiding aspartame, you’re in luck.
A Closer Look at Aspartame AminoSweet
NutraSweet, Equal, aspartame, AminoSweet…no matter what you call it, it’s a powdered artificial sweetener made from amino acids. There’s a lot of debate about whether aspartame is as safe as it is sweet. If you tend to lean toward the precautionary principle, chances are you skip the aspartame in favor of sugar or other natural sweeteners and just try to limit the sweet side of your diet.
There is one definite risk when it comes to aspartame: it contains a compound called phenylalanine. If you’re one of the one in 10,000 people who has Phenylketonuria, aspartame is not safe for you. Phenylketonurics aren’t able to process phenylalanine, and it builds up in their body causing toxicity-related symptoms like heart problems and seizures.
So, what if you’re amontg the other 9,999 people in 10,000? It seems like it’s still up for debate.
A massive survey of research on aspartame by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) looked at decades of data on aspartame and basically declared it safe. There are some questions about that research, though. Some scientists – like science and food policy expert at the University of Sussex, UK Erik Millstone – say that the EFSA analysis cherry-picked studies that put aspartame in a positive light.
Millstone says EFSA rejected studies that turned up negative results for aspartame more often than positive studies.
There seems to still be back-and-forth in the scientific community about how much aspartame is safe, if any. In the meantime, could you pass the sugar?
Image Credit: Pink Packet photo via Shutterstock